Victims of workplace discrimination can suffer in different ways. Not only is it against the law, but it may also cause crippling levels of stress that affects performance, opportunities for professional advancement, and enjoyment of life outside of work. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate because of sex, gender identity, religion, age (if the victim is over 40), sexual orientation, skin color, or disability. Defined as any unwanted behavior based on the above identifiers, it can happen during the hiring process, while employed, or as cause for the worker’s dismissal.
Depending on the circumstances, the actions can move from discrimination to harassment.
Too many common examples
Unfortunately, there is a long list of common types of discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cited the following as the most common examples that led to enforcement and litigation:
- Workplace retaliation: 51.6% of all complaints
- Sex: 32.3%
- Race: 32.3%
- Disability: 32.3%
- Age: 22.1%
- Nationality: 9.3%
- Color of skin: 4.1%
- Religious affiliation: 3.7%
How to fight back
Those discriminated against have three years from the incident to file a complaint against the employer. Those who wish to pursue litigation will still need to file the case with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing but can immediately request a right to sue. If the victim first filed with the EEOC, it will automatically also to the DFEH, who will investigate.
These are serious charges
Workers who believe they have been discriminated against or faced retaliation for filing a complaint quickly find out that it involves many laws and government agencies. An employment law attorney working with clients here in California can provide valuable guidance for protecting your rights as a human being and a worker and can help determine how to best proceed.