Discrimination Attorney in Orange, California
Employees are protected against discrimination in the workplace by both federal and state laws. At the federal level, the legislative push to protect workers took a major turn in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. California has several applicable statutes on the books, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), along with several sections in the state’s Labor Code.
Many times, an employee won’t speak out or file a complaint about discrimination for fear of retaliation by their supervisor or employer. Fear of a demotion at work, a change in working conditions or hours worked, isolation from co-workers, and even termination might hold the employee back from seeking to resolve the situation.
If you feel you’re being discriminated against at work in or around Orange, California, don’t let fear of retaliation prevent you from addressing the situation and defending your rights under the law. Instead, allow our employment law legal team at The Guha Law Firm to become your advocate and help you end the discriminatory practice by exercising your rights. We also serve employees throughout the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside.
What Is Employment Discrimination?
Discrimination is to treat someone differently, or less favorably, for some reason. The Civil Rights Act originally listed what it called protected characteristics, or classes, which were race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Since then, court decisions and the passing of new laws have expanded the characteristics, or classes.
Now, other characteristics include age (40 and up), genetic history, disability, and veterans’ rights. In addition, the definition of sex has been expanded to cover pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
The Civil Rights Act and the laws enacted in its aftermath are mainly enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employees are allowed to file charges (complaints) with the EEOC, which will investigate whether the charges are warranted.
The agency can order the employer to make changes, restore the employee’s rights, or establish new policies. It can sue the business, or issue you the employee what is called a “right to sue” notice. You cannot file a federal lawsuit until the agency issues you this letter or they fail to act on the case within 180 days.
Types of Workplace Discrimination Handled by the EEOC
Workplace discrimination is the overall category. Incidents that might fall under workplace discrimination could include an employer’s refusal to promote an individual or a class of individuals because they think they lack the skills to be a supervisor or operate complicated equipment. They could refuse to promote based on any of the protected classes, such as religion, national origin, disability, sex, and other characteristics.
Of course, failure to promote is just one example of where discrimination can rear its ugly head. Discriminatory practices can also affect bonuses, benefits, pay, hours and conditions of work, hiring, and certainly demotions and terminations.
Harassment at work, including sexual harassment, is also investigated and enforced by the EEOC. Here are some specific areas of discrimination that have augmented the original five of race, color, sex, religion, and national origin:
Disability Discrimination: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expands broad protections to both job applicants and employees who have a mental or physical impairment. It also covers applicants and employers who are “regarded as” being disabled by the employer and also those who are recovering from an impairment.
Age Discrimination: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employers 40 and older from being treated differently (in an adverse way) than those younger who may have the same skills. This helps prevent an employer from “weeding out” older workers, who make more money, in favor of hiring younger and cheaper workers.
Pregnancy Discrimination: This was not among the original five protected classes, but was added with the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It protects both applicants and employees. It covers current, past, and potential pregnancies, as well as birth control options.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination: In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (June 15, 2020), the Supreme Court held that firing individuals because of their sexual orientation or transgender status violates Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination because of sex.
Genetic Information Discrimination: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prevents discrimination on the basis of genetic information in employment, health insurance, and other benefits at work.
Retaliation: Each year, the EEOC receives more claims for workplace retaliation than any other category. The laws enforced by the EEOC prohibit retaliation for any protected activity or exercise of their rights taken by applicants or employees that fall under the EEOC legal umbrella. For instance, if you report an incident of sexual harassment on a co-worker and an investigation ensues, the employer cannot “take it out” on you, for instance, by suddenly writing up a bad performance review with an eye to demote or terminate you.
Applicable California Laws and Codes
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides the same basic protections against employment discrimination as the Civil Rights Act and subsequent amendments and additional laws. In fact, it probably goes beyond the coverage by the EEOC.
The California Labor Code has several sections that offer additional protections. Section 96(k) empowers the California Labor Commissioner to seek lost wages for retaliation for an employee’s off-hour and off-site activities, such as participating in political rallies or religious events.
Section 98.6 relates to retaliation on workers for filing or threatening to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner, while Section 230.1 prohibits an employer with 25 or more employees from retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. In total, there are more than 50 relevant sections.
Discrimination Attorney in Orange, California
If you feel you are being subjected to discrimination at your workplace in or around Orange, California, contact The Guha Law Firm. We will help you exercise your rights and monitor matters with you to avoid any attempts at retaliation, which is illegal under state and federal law. Reach out immediately. We will deal with you and your situation with compassion, but also aggressively pursue justice on your behalf.