Updated on April 19th, 2023

Workplace Discrimination

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

Email  |  Call (888) 600-8654

State and federal labor laws protect employees from employer retaliation if they complain or file a lawsuit about workplace discrimination. Employers may not harass, change benefits, change job assignments, force unpaid leave, or refuse to promote, demote, or fire employees in retaliation. If you have filed a discrimination lawsuit or complaint and are experiencing retaliation, you are eligible for additional damages.

Money Damages

Under Federal Law (Title VII) employees who experienced workplace discrimination may be entitled to the following:

  • Discriminate against anyone because of race, color, or origin. This includes firing, refusing to hire, or less favourable compensation, privileges or terms and conditions because of their race, origin, or color.
  • Classify, segregate, or limit employees or applicants based on color, race, or origin in any way that would limit their opportunities or status as an employee.
  • Publish job ads or notices that show a preference for certain races or ethnicities.

If the company receives financial assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services, they may not use origin, race, or color as a reason to:

  • Use administration methods that would discriminate
  • Select a location that would exclude or hamper their ability to receive benefits
  • Deny any benefits or services that other employees receive
  • Deny opportunities to join an advisory board

Sex or Gender Discrimination

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects employees from discrimination based on their gender or sex. In particular, the law mentions discrimination in pay rates. Employers are prohibited from paying employees with the same skills and experience and performing the same work at different wages based on gender or sex. Equal pay is just the beginning; other sex or gender discriminations are:

  • Hiring – not hiring an applicant based on their gender rather than their skills or experience.
  • Firing – deciding to let go of an employee over another based on sex or gender.
  • Promotion – an employee is passed over for a promotion in favour of a less suitable candidate of a different gender.
  • Benefits – allowing some employees to use long-term disability plans and not others, on the basis of gender or gender-related conditions such as pregnancy.
  • Job classification – not giving a title that would usually go along with the role based on gender. This is also related to wage inequality as job titles and wages are often linked.
  • Training opportunities – denying employees training opportunities, or only sending people of one gender to training sessions.

Age Discrimination

The 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects all employees older than 40 from being discriminated against. The Act prohibits employers from:

  • Failing to hire an employee because of their age
  • Based on age, offering different terms, conditions, or compensation to an employee
  • Classifying, segregating, or limiting an employee because of their age in a way that would adversely affect their opportunities

It is also illegal for employment agencies to refuse to refer a candidate for employment based on their age.

Disability Discrimination

Workplace discrimination is protected by I and V of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. Under these laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating based on disability. Discrimination includes:

  • Refusing to discuss reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability
  • Denying benefits, services, or aid that other employees can access
  • Providing different benefits, serves, or aid (unless it is necessary for the disability)
  • Eligibility criteria for hiring or promotion that would screen out people with disabilities
  • Administering activities, services, and programs that are difficult or do not meet the needs of people with disabilities who are qualified
  • Denying the opportunity for planning or advisory board membership

Religious Discrimination

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, prohibits discrimination based on a person’s religious beliefs and affiliations in any aspect of employment. Religious beliefs are defined in the law as moral or ethical beliefs held in the strength of traditional religious views. Employers are expected to accommodate an employee’s religious practices unless they cause unnecessary hardship to the business. The Act protects employees from discrimination and a hostile work environment caused by insults, slurs, intimidation, and abusive ridicule.

Discrimination based on the following things are prohibited under the Act:

  • Affiliation with a religious group
  • Cultural or physical traits including dress, language, or accent
  • The perception that an employee is of a particular religious group
  • Association with someone of a religious group

Employer Retaliation

State and federal labor laws protect employees from employer retaliation if they complain or file a lawsuit about workplace discrimination. Employers may not harass, change benefits, change job assignments, force unpaid leave, or refuse to promote, demote, or fire employees in retaliation. If you have filed a discrimination lawsuit or complaint and are experiencing retaliation, you are eligible for additional damages.

Money Damages

Under Federal Law (Title VII) employees who experienced workplace discrimination may be entitled to the following:

  • Promotion or job reinstatement
  • Financial damages
  • Recovery of wages and other job-related losses
  • Injunctive relief (company must amend their policies)
  • Payment of legal fees

An employee must file a formal complaint with the EEOC before they file a lawsuit. The EEOC will investigate the claim and try to resolve the issue. If they cannot resolve the problem, the EEOC may launch a civil suit on behalf of the employee or give the employee a “right to sue” letter to allow them to file a lawsuit themselves. Act immediately because charges must be filed within 300 days of the discrimination. Contact our employment lawyers to discuss any workplace discrimination.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

See all blogs: Business | Corporate | Employment Law

Most recent blogs:

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

The law defines an unlawful hostile work environment to mean when a superior or coworker communication or behavior that is offensive, intimating, or discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.

Can you take unpaid time off in California?

There is no legal requirement in California that an employer provide its employees with either paid or unpaid vacation time. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

DFEH Right to Sue

To file a lawsuit for discrimination, you must file a complaint with DFEH and obtain a Right-to-Sue notice.

Is It Illegal To Not Pay Overtime?

Yes, it is illegal for employer to not pay overtime because California law requires that employers pay overtime, whether authorized or not.

What Is Rate Pay Meaning?

The meaning of pay rate is the average hourly rate an employee is paid calculated by dividing the total pay for employment in a work week by the total number of hours actually worked.

California Break Laws

Under California law, non-exempt workers are entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid meal break during their eight-hour shift. 

Not Getting Paid for Work I Have Done

Workers who have not been paid for work have the right to file a claim with the federal and state Department of Labor for unpaid wages.

California Overtime Law

Under California overtime law, an employee who works over eight hours a day or over forty hours per week is entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.

Who is exempt from overtime pay?

As of 2023, to be exempt from overtime pay, any employees who are paid at least $62,400 per year and work are primarily professional, executive, creative, managerial, or intellectual and require the exercise of independent judgment.

Can Previous Employers Talk Bad About You?

There are no state or federal laws prohibiting what a previous employer can or cannot say about a former employee. However, previous employers are not permitted to make up lies to damage your reputation and make it difficult for you to get another job.

Can An Employer Cut Your Pay as Punishment?

Employers cannot cut hours to retaliate against employees. Cutting the hours of an employee should never be used as discipline or in an attempt to make an employee quit. 

California Random Drug Testing Law

Random drug testing is not permitted in California, and employers must give their employees notice before a drug test is given.

What happens if you get caught working under the table?

Generally, it is not illegal for your employer to pay you in cash. However, if the employer paid you under the table and did not report your earnings, you may be entitled to money damages under California Labor Code 226.

ADA Proof of Disability

An employer has no right to ask an employee to provide proof of disability unless the employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the employer does not believe disability exists.

FMLA Retaliation and Wrongful Discharge

An employer is prohibited from retaliating, interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s exercise of any FMLA right. If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for FLMA taking medical leave, the worker could have a lawsuit against the employer.

Per Diem Employee Rights

A per diem employee is a worker who work on an as needed basis. A per diem employee does not have a regular schedule or shift but instead works hours as assigned.

How To File A Workplace Harassment Complaint

You can always file a harassment complaint with the EEOC about the harassment. Also, you can retain our employment law attorney to help with no upfront money from you.

Wrongful Termination Settlements

When a worker wins a wrongful termination lawsuit, the average payout amount is $9000 to $95,000, depending on how much the worker would have made during employment.

Can employer ask for proof of disability?

If a worker asks for reasonable accommodation, the employer can ask for proof of disability. However, an employer cannot ask for proof of disability if its part of a hiring decision.

What is an EDD Audit?

An EDD audit is a payroll tax audit initiated when a former worker you classified as an independent contractor applies for unemployment with EDD.  The EDD thinks you misclassified the worker as an independent contractor and audits your company. 

Using PTO for Paid Vacation Time

PTO is any time an employee gets paid while away from work, including paid vacation time. PTO is paid time off, meaning a worker may use PTO for any reason, such as paid sick leave or paid vacation time.

When to hire an employment attorney?

You should hire an employment attorney as soon as you are aware of the issue or believe something is wrong and that the employer is not remedying the issue, such as harassment, wrongful termination, or discrimination.

Is PTO Required by Law?

Employers in California are not required to provide any PTO, such as paid time off or paid or unpaid vacation, to their employees.

Contact our attorney.

Please tell us your story:

6 + 0 = ?

© Copyright | Nakase Law Firm (2019)