Workplace discrimination is absolutely unacceptable under all circumstances. If you have been fired from your job, laid off, been passed over for promotions or other opportunities based on your age, race, gender, or any such personal characteristics, which are protected under state and federal laws, it is important that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles discrimination lawyer about asserting your employee rights.
California state and federal law give workers the right to apply for jobs and to continue to do their job without the fear that they will be judged on personal characteristics rather than their professional qualifications and abilities. No one should have to experience employment discrimination. Every worker has the right to equal treatment in the workplace.
If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, you can seek legal remedies under state or federal law. Schedule your consultation with a Los Angeles employment discrimination attorney by calling (818) 990-8300 today.
What Qualifies as Workplace Discrimination in Los Angeles?
Discrimination refers to prejudicial treatment based on an employee's personal characteristics such as:
State and federal discrimination laws protect both current workers and job applicants. Any Los Angeles employee who believes they have been discriminated against in the workplace can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and can even potentially file a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the employer.
Some of the most common types of employment discrimination in the workplace are:
- Age Discrimination: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it a violation to discriminate against any current employee or job applicant over the age of 40. It is illegal to fire, lay off, demote or take any such adverse employment action against an employee because of his or her age.
- Sex Discrimination: Discrimination based on sexual orientation should not be tolerated in the workplace. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace that is based on an employee's gender or sexual orientation. Discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status, or because of sexual orientation is unlawful discrimination because of sex in violation of Title VII.
- Race, Religion, and National Origin Discrimination: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that employers shall not discriminate against workers based on race (racial discrimination) or religion. The same law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for religious practices unless it presents an undue burden to the employer. Employers are also prohibited under federal law from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on their national origin or perceived ethnic background. It is also a violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 to discriminate against a worker or applicant based on his or her citizenship or immigration status.
- Disability Discrimination: The Americans with Disability Act and the Rehabilitation Act require that employers cannot discriminate against current or prospective employees based on any type of physical or mental disability, or even a medical condition such as cancer. The employer is also required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons in the workplace such as constructing wheelchair ramps, providing ergonomic furniture, etc. Under the law, pregnancy is considered a disability as well. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women in the workplace due to pregnancy. The employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women when necessary.
What is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an individual is treated differently because of their sexual orientation. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers are prohibited from discriminating not only on the basis of an individual's actual sexual orientation, but also what the employer perceives as their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation may mean heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. It is also unlawful for employers to make any adverse decision on the basis of an employee's actual or perceived sexual orientation.
Here are just a few examples of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace:
- Not giving someone a raise, promotion or benefits because of their sexual orientation.
- Firing or laying off someone because of their sexual orientation.
- Preventing an employee from accessing job resources that are typically offered to other employees because of their sexuality.
- Issuing an employee a poor performance evaluation because of their sexual orientation.
- Retaliating against an individual if they filed a complaint of helped a co-worker file a complaint of sexual orientation discrimination, creating a hostile work environment for employees.
It is also illegal for employers to fire, fail to hire or unlawfully discriminate against employees because they are transgender or gender non-comforming, including if they identify as nonbinary. Federal law prohibits discrimination at workplaces with 15 or more employees. However, California law prohibits discrimination if the employer has five or more employees. If you have been discriminated or retaliated against based on your sexual orientation, you may be limited to filing a claim with the California Civil Rights Department instead of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
What is Racial Discrimination?
Racial discrimination exists when a person is treated unfairly based on the characteristics of his or her race. Racial discrimination in the workplace can come in various forms. It may be directed at employees or job applicants or any racial group who are treated unfavorably or differently when it comes to the terms or conditions of their employment. Racial discrimination could also occur when someone who is perceived by coworkers or employers to be a member of a certain racial group. Employees could also experience racial discrimination as a result of their association with someone of a certain race. For example, an employee could suffer from racial discrimination because he or she is married to someone from a certain racial group.
There are two types of racial discrimination that occur in the workplace:
Disparate treatment: This is when an employer passes up someone from a certain racial group for promotions, training or other perks and benefits. This also includes situations where employers target a certain racial group for adverse employment action. For instance, when an employer lays off only Latino employees or mostly Latino employees in a company, that is an example of disparate treatment.
Disparate impact: This occurs when an employer may not intend to discriminate, but their policies, practices or procedures may adversely affect employees of a certain racial group. Disparate impact is a subtler form of discrimination. When a company deliberately hires more white employees, that is an example of disparate treatment or intentional discrimination. However, when a company, for example, has an established practice to hire only from Ivy League colleges, then that would take away opportunities from minority applicants. This could amount to disparate impact.
What is National Origin Discrimination?
National origin discrimination involves treating job applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of their ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain national or ethnic background, even if they are not. Such discrimination can also be directed against people who are married to or associated with a person of a certain national origin. Discrimination could also occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are of the same national origin.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to discriminate based on national origin when it comes to any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, etc. It is also against the law to harass a person because of his or her national origin or ethnicity. Such harassment can include offensive remarks about a person's national origin, accent or ethnicity.
While offhand comments or simple teasing may not be illegal, harassment is unlawful when it is so frequent, severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision such as the victim being fired or demoted. In addition, it is illegal for an employer to use an employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, irrespective of national origin, if it has a negative impact on people of a certain national origin, and is not job-related or integral to the operation of the business.
Do I Have a Discrimination Claim?
The EEOC states that employees are protected from various types of mistreatment while on the job including harassment, discriminatory treatment, and retaliation for an employee taking action against the employer. There are two main types of evidence that our Los Angeles employment lawyers use to prove your allegations of discrimination:
Direct evidence: One of the best and most effective ways to prove your claims of being discriminated in the workplace is direct evidence. Such proof may include eyewitness testimony and other coworkers or even supervisors who may have been involved with the adverse employment action you faced that was based on your protected class.
One example of direct evidence would be if you are being laid off because your company wants to hire younger employees or new college graduates in order to save money. If you have emails, internal memos or record of verbal comments where company officials have expressed concern about employees' ages and budget concerns, this could be direct evidence of age discrimination.
Indirect evidence: When you have proof that did not come directly from your employer that shows employment discrimination, that is known as indirect evidence. Many employment discrimination cases tend to fall under this category because it is not common for employers these days to overtly target a specific protected category.
Proving discrimination can be challenging because a favorable ruling is no guarantee, even when you have direct evidence. This is why you need an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer on your side who can help you build a solid case with evidence that shows your employer not only discriminated against you, but did so intentionally.
In disparate impact cases where the discrimination is not overt and where an employer is able to justify a particular policy or procedure, you may still be able to show that your employer refused to adopt an alternative policy or procedure that might have had a lesser impact on a protected class.
What is the EEOC and What Does it Do?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces the laws against job discrimination and harassment. Each year, the agency processes about 80,000 job discrimination complaints, according to its website. It also works with about 94 state and local agencies that investigate approximately 50,000 additional job discrimination complaints.
The EEOC investigates complaints of job discrimination that are based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or genetic information. If the EEOC determines that an employer is violating federal non-discrimination laws, they take action to stop the discrimination. In some cases, an employer may voluntarily agree to take action to make certain changes to their workplace to prevent discrimination. In other cases, the EEOC may have to sue the employer in court to remedy the problem.
Often, the EEOC will also get proactive to prevent discrimination before it occurs. The agency does this by giving presentations to employers and employees regarding that laws that are in place. The EEOC produces documents about equal employment opportunity laws and rules to help applicants, employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. In addition, the EEOC works with other federal agencies developing educational material and conducting training on employment discrimination laws. The agency's services are free of cost.
It is important to contact the EEOC you are being discriminated or harassed at work based on your race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or genetic information. You should also contact the EEOC if you are being discriminated against or harassed because you complained about job discrimination, helped with a job discrimination proceeding such as a lawsuit, or reasonably opposed discrimination.
How Does an Attorney Prove Discrimination in Los Angeles?
To prove employment discrimination in the workplace, there are several elements that must be proved:
- Protected Characteristics: Employees must show evidence that they have been treated unfairly or have been discriminated against because of "protected characteristics" such as age, race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on the color of his or his skin. An employee, for example, cannot be passed up for promotion or be deprived of training opportunities or opportunities for advancement because he or she is African American. The law clearly states that people in these protected classes should not be treated differently than someone who is not a member of the class. You are legally protected from employment discrimination solely based on who you are.
- Ability and Qualifications: You must prove that you have the necessary qualifications to do your job and that you performed your job competently and with integrity. As Los Angeles employment attorneys, we often note that employers are quick to criticize employees' performance when the issue of discrimination is raised. In other words, they try to point a finger at the employee who is alleging discrimination to discredit him or her and to save their reputation.
- Eyewitness Testimony: If your employer has made any disparaging or discriminatory comments about you, talk to colleagues who may have overheard those comments or seek out others in your workplace who may have also been discriminated against for the same or different reason. Eyewitness testimony can be extremely valuable in Los Angeles discrimination cases.
- Impact of Employment Discrimination: It also helps to show evidence that the discrimination had a negative impact on your job and career. Examples of adverse employment decisions triggered by unlawful discrimination may include an employee being terminated or demoted; getting a poor performance review despite competent job performance; not getting raises or bonuses, and not receiving training opportunities. These negative actions are relatively easier to prove.
- Lack of Objectivity: Most companies have employee manuals clearly detailing how employees are evaluated on the job. Using these criteria, you can show how the discriminatory acts against you were not consistent with the principles and rules set forth in the company's employee manual. We often see that companies use subjective criteria such as an employee not "having the right attitude" or not "being a team player." However, criteria for making work-related determinations should be objective and quantifiable.
- A Pattern of Mistreatment: When you compare your treatment to that of those outside your protected class, do you see a significant difference? If that is the case, you may be able to show a pattern of unfair or discriminatory treatment at your place of work. You may be able to show that colleagues with similar qualifications and experience have been given better opportunities and projects that are more favorable.
Discrimination & Retaliation
It is important for you to get it on the record that you don't appreciate being discriminated against. If your supervisor is retaliating against you by further mistreating you at work, it is important that you document such retaliation and report that as well. File a complaint with your human resources department and report your employer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Retaliation and discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue not just in Los Angeles and in California, but around the country. There are strong federal and state laws that safeguard Californians from unlawful discrimination. However, our Los Angeles employment lawyers see a number of cases of discrimination in the workplace. Victims of discrimination face significant emotional trauma as well as financial consequences as a result of job loss, lack of advancement in the workplace or retaliation by their employer.
At Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers, our experienced Los Angeles discrimination lawyers serve as dedicated advocates for those who are facing discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If you believe you have faced workplace discrimination, contact us to receive free legal guidance.
What Steps Does a Discrimination Lawyer Take to Protect My Rights?
If you have been discriminated against or mistreated in the workplace, it is important that your Los Angeles employment discrimination attorney protects your rights by taking the following steps:
- Be Objective When It Comes to The Evidence: To be successful with a Los Angeles discrimination claim, it is important to focus on the facts and details of the case, as opposed to emotion. While being discriminated against is a traumatic event, when it comes to your claim, what will be scrutinized is the evidence. For example, it will not suffice to say that your supervisor doesn't like you. To prove discrimination, you must be able to provide concrete facts and evidence such as emails, internal memos or other communication that are discriminatory in nature.
- Maintain a Record: It is important that you compile all evidence by date. Keep a journal of your employer's discriminatory behavior. Your notes should include the time, date, location, and the names of the individuals who witnessed the incident as well as a detailed description of what happened.
- Report the Incidents: Make sure you report the incident to your human resources department. If that doesn't stop the employment discrimination, report it to an agency such as the EEOC that can investigate it further and contact an experienced employment attorney who can help you pursue your legal rights.
- Don't Accept Retaliation: A number of employers tend to retaliate against employees who file discrimination complaints. It is against the law to retaliate against employees in this manner. Contact an experienced discrimination lawyer who can help protect your rights every step of the way.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive for a Discrimination Case?
As a victim, you likely want to know how much compensation do you get form a discrimination lawsuit Employees who have been victims of employment discrimination can seek compensation for damages and losses they have suffered as a result of the discriminatory acts and behavior such as:
- Back Pay: Employees who have been subject to discrimination can claim compensation for lost pay because they were fired illegally (due to discrimination) or because they were forced to quit their jobs due to a hostile work environment. Back pay in such cases could include lost wages, benefits such as medical insurance, pension accounts, stock options, bonuses, tips, etc.
- Compensatory Damages: This might include out-of-pocket expenses caused by the discrimination such as costs associated with a job search or medical expenses. Compensatory damages could also include mental anguish and loss of life's enjoyment.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, where the discrimination was particularly egregious, courts may award punitive damages to make an example of the employer and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
- Attorneys' Fees: In addition to these other damages, a plaintiff in a workplace discrimination fee may also be able to receive compensation for attorneys' fees and court costs associated with the case.
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Get Help From Experienced Lawyers Today
If you are facing discrimination in your workplace, please remember that are strict time limits for filing a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC. In many cases, the time limit is 180 days or 6 months. Because time is of the essence, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles workplace discrimination lawyer who will help you fight for your rights, seek justice and fair compensation for your losses. Call Kingsley and Kingsley to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.
If you have been discriminated against at work, our Los Angeles discrimination lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Using an employment lawyer is one of the best steps you can take to secure your future. We are passionate in our pursuit of justice for our clients and will fight for your rights every step of the way.