Workplace discrimination is when an employer treats you differently because you are part of a “protected class.” There are many kinds of protected classes. The most common are pregnancy, age, disability, and race. If an employer treats someone in a protected class differently than they treats their other employees, that is workplace discrimination and is against the law.  There are other protected classes such as religion, national origin, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status

When Do Federal Employment Discrimination Laws Apply, Versus State Level Laws?

Most often, state law applies to an employee’s claims. The state laws are more beneficial to the employee and in fact, unless you work for a federal agency, it is much better to sue under state law, if possible. There are two agencies that are the gatekeepers to suing in court – the EEOC and the DFEH. before you can obtain a Right to Sue letter, you have to report the discrimination to one of those two agencies. Luckily, a report to one is a report to both. The EEOC is the federal agency and the DFEH is the state agency. Either one can accept a discrimination complaint on behalf of the other.

When you receive a Right to Sue letter from either agency, you have one year to file suit. The letter from the EEOC might say you have 90 days to sue in federal court, but in truth, if you have a state law claim, the one-year statute applies. You have two choices when going to one of these agencies. You can let the state agency investigate your claim, or you can request an immediate Right to Sue letter. Usually, lawyers request an immediate Right to Sue letter. An attorney can formulate the complaint to the agency, so that it is done properly, and all the appropriate boxes are checked.

Who Is An Employee Under Employment Discrimination Laws?

In California, the FEHA (Fair Employment & Housing Act) applies to employers with more than five employees. However, with regard to sexual harassment, even a single employee qualifies. Other exceptions include, for example, religious organizations, which are exempt from religious discrimination laws.

What Are A Company’s Responsibilities Under Employment Discrimination Laws?

Employers are obligated to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring. They are responsible to establish policies and to enforce those policies. When they receive complaints, employers are responsible for investigating those complaints, determining whether any illegal actions took place, and taking appropriate remedial actions to reverse any discriminatory actions taken against its employees.  In order to trigger an investigation, the employee has to complain, and should do so in writing or by email from their personal email address.  Many employees are afraid to complain because they fear retaliation, but ironically, it is the existence of the written complaint that protects the from retaliation.

Who Is Protected From Employment Discrimination?

All employees of employers with five or more employees are protected from employment discrimination. That means if you are fired because you are pregnant or because you have a disability that prevents you, either permanently or temporarily, from working as hard as you used to, or if you are a member of any other protected class, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protection applies to you, and will protect you from any adverse action your employer takes against you.

What Are Some Things A Prospective Employer Cannot Ask When Hiring?

Typically, employers cannot ask your age, whether or not you suffer from any disabilities, or whether you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. New laws now exist that prevent employers from asking about your previous wages, due gender discrimination and the desire to equally pay men and women.

For more information on Different Forms Of Discrimination, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (562) 630-1500 today.