Employment discrimination is a hot topic these days and unfortunately, not for good reasons — Employment discrimination cases are on the rise in California.
Employment discrimination is illegal under state and federal law. This means that California employers generally cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age (for workers over 40), military status, financial situation, genetics, or citizenship. These rights are guaranteed by the “equal protection clause” of the Constitution and by state constitutions. For instance, the California Constitution provides explicit protections to public and private sector employees. This is unusual, because in most states protections are offered only for public sector workers. In other words, if you have a potential claim for discrimination at work, know that California and federal law are on your side.
Examples of workplace discrimination
The facts of workplace discrimination cases run the gamut, but in many instances, the employer (or those who work for him) discriminate in the following way:
- The employer will decide the plaintiff is a member of a protected group because of a certain physical characteristic, belief, or other behavior.
- The employer will then treat the plaintiff unfairly because of his or her membership in this protected group.
- The outcomes for the victims of discrimination range from anxiety to lost wages and mental or even physical trauma.
If you believe you have an employment discrimination claim, you’ll want to document everything that has happened to you. Think of people who saw what happened and think of when and where it happened. These colleagues may act as witnesses down the road.
In general, a workplace discrimination case is proved with the following elements:
o The plaintiff was a member of a “protected group” as listed above
o The plaintiff was qualified in all respects for the job, promotion, or advancement he or she sought
o The plaintiff was rejected despite being fully qualified – Here, you will need evidence to show that the only reason you were not selected is because of membership in the protected group.
o The employer intended to treat the plaintiff differently from others because of actual or perceived membership in the protected group. One way to show an employer’s intent is to show how he or she treated other people in the same protected group; a pattern may be sufficient to show intent.
o After being rejected, the employer advertised for, interviewed, and sought applicants with the same qualifications as the plaintiff
If you believe you have been discriminated against, consulting an experienced employment lawyer is a smart move. The remedies for discrimination in the workplace may include damages, such as back pay, or reinstatement to a previous job title. A judge could also order relief for all other employees at that workplace, including revisions to the company handbook or providing additional training.
To discuss your potential workplace discrimination case, contact Orange County employment attorney James Hardin at Hardin & Associates today.