Workplace discrimination is a serious issue that requires immediate legal action. The term “discrimination” in the legal sense refers to any undue punishment or adverse action taken against an individual on the basis of their protected status. This may pertain to their race, sex, religion, or other immutable individual characteristic. The laws of California and the United States prohibit discrimination in the workplace.
Have you been discriminated against at work? Whether the discrimination led to your wrongful termination, demotion, retaliation, harassment or other unfair treatment, you have rights.
The employment law attorneys at California Employment Counsel, APC, can help you understand your rights and represent you in this legal matter. We represent victims of workplace discrimination throughout Orange County and across Southern California.
Have You Faced Discrimination At Work in California?
Many supervisors habitually discriminate against people of color, those who have a disability, women, or LGBT+ employees. For some, it has become so commonplace they may not even realize they are doing it themselves. You don’t have to suffer the indignity of discrimination in the workplace simply because someone in power doesn’t realize their behavior preferences another. For the courts to label an act or actions as discriminatory, specific criteria must be met.
California and federal laws prohibit discrimination against employees based on:
Disability/medical condition: Employees are protected from discrimination based on disability and medical conditions, as well as retaliation for taking medical leave.
Age: Employers cannot consider age as a factor when making decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotion, demotion and other employment practices.
Religion: We protect the rights of those who have been discriminated against or denied reasonable accommodations due to their religion.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy status is a protected class, meaning employers may not discriminate against or harass women due to their pregnancy, intention to get pregnant or taking leave for pregnancy or baby bonding.
Race: If you have faced race discrimination or harassment at work, our lawyers can help you explore your legal options.
National origin: Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their national origin or their association with anyone of a given national origin.
Sexual orientation: In California, employers may not discriminate against employees due to their sexual orientation or sexual preference, actual or perceived. We provide strong representation of LGBT clients who have faced sexual orientation discrimination at work.
Military service: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects military service members and veterans from discrimination based on military service. Returning veterans have the right to re-employment with the reinstatement of benefits.
It may seem daunting to come forward with a discrimination claim against your employer. Remember, employment laws protect you from retaliation by your employer for making discrimination claims. Our lawyers can help you explore your rights and options before you make any important decisions.
Common Problems With Discrimination Cases in California
Proving discrimination occurred is not always easy. While you may believe that your firing, demotion, or other workplace issue resulted from discrimination, your employer likely has a different story. Without physical evidence or some kind of record of discriminatory behavior, a discrimination case can quickly escalate into a complex legal affair involving multiple witnesses, professional experts, and multiple legal teams. The employer’s in-house legal counsel will likely be involved in the situation as well. This is one reason why it’s crucial to keep a record of specific incidents where you’ve been discriminated against at work. One incident may not be enough to start an investigation, but a pattern of discriminatory behavior may be.
Some employees agree to arbitration in their employment agreements, but these agreements never supersede the constitutional right to file with the EEOC. Even if you believe you have signed away your right to take legal action against your employer, this is not true when you are dealing with workplace discrimination, even for enforceable arbitration clauses. While it’s generally wise to attempt to resolve your discrimination issue using workplace policy and internal company procedures before resorting to legal action, this is not always feasible or effective.
Another problem facing employees who suffer from workplace discrimination is the existence of at-will employment laws. Most employment in the United States occurs on an at-will basis. This means that when an employer and employee form a working relationship, both parties have the right to end the relationship at any time. The end of their working relationship can come with or without prior notice or warning. They may not even need to provide a reason.
In most cases, state law will not require a reason to be provided. It’s easy to see how an at-will employment agreement may seem like a full stop to an employee who has faced discrimination and is unsure what to do next. It’s vital to remember that while an employer may not need a specific reason to fire an employee, they may not fire an employee for discriminatory reasons.
Your Orange County discrimination attorney can help you determine whether your firing occurred on a discriminatory basis or if it fell in line with your employer’s accepted company policies. You may need to gather evidence of prior discriminatory behavior, such as unacceptable comments or statements made by the party responsible for the discrimination you faced. It’s also usually necessary for your lawyer to speak with other employees who may have witnessed discriminatory behavior in the workplace. At-will employment laws may become obstacles in your case, but they can be overcome with the right evidence and witness testimony.
Potential Damages from a Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit
The EEOC outlines clear penalties for employers who engage in discriminatory behaviors against their employees. The EEOC could issue fines and other disciplinary actions against the employer. The employer may need to create new company policies or strengthen existing ones to prevent similar incidents in the future. Additionally, the employer will be liable for any economic damages the claimant sustained due to the employer’s discriminatory behavior.
In a civil lawsuit for workplace discrimination, an employee can claim compensation for job-related losses. In some cases, a wrongfully terminated employee may seek reinstatement to their previous job and compensation for wages lost. Other employees may be unwilling to return to a workplace in which they experienced discrimination. An Orange County discrimination lawyer can help a client determine which damages are appropriate to claim, such as lost income and pain and suffering for the hostile work environment, stress, ridicule, and emotional bullying they may have sustained.
What to Expect When Filing an EEOC Claim for Discrimination
The EEOC of the United States has a duty to investigate all claims of workplace discrimination and to uphold the laws of the United States for every place of employment. Before you can file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer or supervisor, you will need to file a claim with the EEOC. This process typically involves filling out paperwork that outlines the details of your claim and providing required documentation. Your Orange County discrimination attorney can assist with the filing process.
Once filed, the EEOC will review your claim. If they find there is cause to take legal action against the defendant named in your claim, the EEOC will provide the claimant with a Notice of Right to Sue, allowing the claimant to proceed with their lawsuit. It is not possible to proceed with a workplace discrimination lawsuit without the approval of the EEOC.
A workplace discrimination lawsuit is typically a matter of civil law, and the defendant is liable for any damages the plaintiff incurred if they are found to have discriminated against the plaintiff illegally. In some cases, a defendant may face criminal punishment if the nature of their discriminatory behavior was extreme or physically damaging to the employee.
Find Legal Counsel Today
If you recently experienced workplace discrimination, it’s easy to feel like your case is straightforward and that you will be able to handle the EEOC claim process on your own. However, it is worth investing in an Orange County discrimination attorney who can fully represent every angle of your case. The sooner you find an attorney and start building your workplace discrimination claim, the sooner you can obtain recovery for your damages.
California Employment Counsel, APC, is ready to help with your workplace discrimination claim in Orange County. Our firm has a solid record of successful discrimination cases, and we can help you determine the potential outcome of your discrimination claim.
Free Initial Consultation · No Recovery, No Attorney Fee For Employee Cases