Employment discrimination in the workplace takes many forms and California and federal laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Fortunately, California law often provides employees with more protection than the analogous federal law. For example, California Government Code section 12940(a) prohibits discrimination in hiring practices or treatment in the workplace based upon: race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation of any person.” It is, however, important to note that there must be a causal link between the employer’s discriminatory motivation and the harm that the employee has suffered such as a termination or being repeatedly turned down for a promotion. Although you may suspect that your boss is a racist or favors male employees, you must suffer a concrete injury as a result of the company’s discriminatory attitude.
Proving a case of employment discrimination can therefore be difficult as most employers are savvy enough to conceal an unlawful motivation behind a firing or other discriminatory treatment of an employee. Proving that race, age or disability was a motive in the employer’s decision, as opposed to other performance issues raised by your employer as a basis for the termination, reprimand or demotion, often requires substantial reliance on circumstantial evidence. There are two theories by which an employee can prove discrimination. Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when an employer takes an employee’s membership in a protected class into consideration when making an employment related decision. For example, an employer discovers that one of his employees protected status into consideration when making an employment decision. Based upon the discovery, the employer selects the pregnant employee for a layoff over another far less qualified employee who is not pregnant. Disparate impact, on the other hand, occurs when an employer or non-discriminatory. However, the policy disproportionately impacts members of a protected class such as women or minorities. Examples of such unlawful policies include minimum height or agility test requirements that can have a disparate impact on women. Due to the difficulties involved in proving workplace discrimination, it is important that you document when you experience or witness what you believe to be unlawful conduct by your employer. You should make every effort to document the event as soon as possible after it occurs so that memories are fresh. In the unfortunate event that you need to pursue litigation against your employer for unlawful discrimination or retaliation, your attorney will be grateful for your records that can be used to prove your case.
A lawyer dedicated to protecting employee rights can provide you with the guidance, compassion and legal insight necessary to help you throughout the entire process whether before or after your employer has taken any unlawful actions. If you have experienced employment discrimination by way of a termination, failure to receive a promotion or other unlawful treatment in the workplace, then you may be entitled to compensation for lost salary, incentives, emotional distress and punitive damages. The stakes can be high: employees who experience discrimination can sometimes win enormous awards in court with the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer such as the Perrin Law Group.