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racial discrimination at work in california

Racial discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee or job applicant receives less favorable treatment because of their race or skin color. If you were discriminated against at work based on your race, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer for damages. Fernandez & Lauby California Employment Lawyers are here to help you with your case.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”) protects California employees from discrimination on the basis of race. The FEHA generally applies to companies of five or more employees.

What is Racial Discrimination in California?

  • Refusing to hire, refusing to promote, demoting, or firing workers because of their race
  • Adopting a company policy that disproportionately negatively affects workers of a particular race
  • Permitting frequent and severe racial harassment of an employee in the workplace

Types of Racial Discrimination

In general, there are two types of illegal employment discrimination under the FEHA: disparate treatment and disparate impact.

Disparate treatment racial discrimination

Disparate treatment racial discrimination occurs where an employer who is covered by applicable anti-discrimination laws takes a negative employment action against a worker because of their race. Negative employment actions include refusal to hire, refusal to promote, or termination of an employee because of their race. In order to prevail under the disparate treatment theory, an employee must show that the employer harbored a discriminatory intent.

Disparate impact racial discrimination

Disparate impact racial discrimination occurs when employers adopt policies that are neutral on their face but it has a disproportionate adverse impact on employees of a certain race. Regardless of the employer’s lack of discriminatory motive, if a neutral employment policy results in harsher impact on workers in protected racial groups, an employer may be held liable for disparate impact discrimination.

Do Race Discrimination Laws Protect You In California?

It is unlawful in California for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on their race, the color of their skin, or their ancestry. It is also unlawful for employers to discriminate because of an employee’s association with members of other races, skin colors, or ancestries.

Employees of all races are protected even if they are members of racial groups that have not been traditionally discriminated against. Some people refer to these types of claims as “reverse discrimination” claims.

Even if an employee’s ethnicity is not readily known by the employer. California still protects against discrimination to employees that are perceived to be of a certain race, color, or ancestry.

If your employer is discriminating against you on the basis of your race, you are likely protected.

Does Your Employer Have to Prevent Discrimination in California?

When an employee is subject to discrimination by supervisors or co-workers is unlawful for an employer to fail to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.

If you were subject to discrimination that your employer was aware of and your employer failed to prevent the discrimination from happening which resulted in harm to you, the law entitles you to damages for that harm.

Is your Employer Liable for Harassment in California?

California law also prohibits employers, supervisors, and co-workers from harassing any employee because of race.

If you are subject to frequent and severe hostile, offensive, oppressive, or intimidating behavior as a result of your race you may be the victim of actionable harassment. This type of behavior deprives you of your right to a workplace free of discrimination.

If you have been the victim of constant harassment such as name-calling, offensive jokes, or derogatory comments you may be entitled to damages even if you did not suffer any harm.

Harassment may involve physical, oral, or written conduct that is offensive or derogatory—so long as it is motivated by the employee’s protected characteristic.

Common examples of harassment include frequent or severe:

  • Racial names or slurs spoken by coworkers or superiors
  • Demeaning comments related to a lack of English language skills
  • Threats to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Damages for Racial Discrimination & Harassment in California

If you have been the victim of racial discrimination or harassment, you may be entitled to recover damages in an amount that will compensate you for the detriment caused by the wrongful conduct. This includes backpay, front pay, reinstatement, emotional distress, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

Your Employer Cannot Retaliate Against You for Filing a Racial Discrimination or Harassment Claim

Current employees are often concerned that they will lose their job as a result of filing a claim against their employer. However, law protects employees from retaliation in the form of termination or any other adverse employment action simply because an employee asserts their legal rights. An employer who retaliates against an employee for fighting back against racial discrimination is subject to additional damages as a result of unlawful retaliation.

Fernandez & Lauby Southern California Employment Lawyers Can Help You with Your Racial Discrimination and Harassment Case

Our employment law attorneys have the experience, skill and resources to navigate your legal options and help you achieve the best possible outcome for you case. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis which means that you will pay nothing out-of-pocket, and we collect our fees only if we win. Contact our team for a free evaluation of your case.

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