Most people support the idea that qualifications and capability should be the only ways to evaluate employability and that no one should be excluded from an employment opportunity or treated differently for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance.
Unfortunately, there need to be laws in place to remind employers that when it comes to employment-related decisions, they cannot consider certain characteristics or beliefs held by a person as the basis for a denial of employment. Employers also cannot treat employees differently based on their characteristics and beliefs.
Sometimes an employer’s unfair treatment of an employee is intentional. And sometimes an employment policy that is not specifically unfair still unfairly impacts a particular person or group of people. An employer is responsible for the discriminatory behavior of other employees if the employer fails to take action to stop the discrimination.
At Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation, we understand the feelings of frustration and hurt people experience when they face discrimination at work. Our Southern California-based employment discrimination attorneys have no tolerance for employers that treat employees unfairly. We fight hard for our clients’ dignity and the respect that they are due.
When Does Workplace Discrimination Occur?
Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee protected by law is subjected to unfair treatment related to their employment. Both state and federal laws prohibit employers from engaging in behavior that negatively impacts an employee or job applicant with certain protected attributes.
Federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of:
Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for attempting to enforce their rights.
The federal laws apply to employers with at least 15 employees (except in the case of age discrimination which requires 20 employees). Many state laws apply to employers with a lesser number of employees. The employment discrimination laws in California apply to employers with just 5 employees.
Employer Requirements and Behaviors That Can Be Discriminatory
Prohibited employment discrimination can occur at any stage of the employment process or relationship. From questions asked on a job application or during an interview to evaluations for promotion, employers are not allowed to discriminate against those persons protected by the laws.
Some common ways employers can discriminate include the following.
- Having a dress code for all employees that is inconsistent with the religious dress requirements of certain employees
- Asking a pregnant job applicant about her marital status and how she will care for her children while she’s at work
- Failing to provide a workspace to a disabled employee that will accommodate his wheelchair
- Promoting a younger employee over a more qualified employee nearing retirement age
- Refusing to hire a woman because the job requirements are assumed to be too strenuous for women
- Firing an employee after that employee reports being harassed by a fellow employee
What to Do When You Suspect Discrimination at Work
If you believe that you are being treated unfairly based on a consideration that is protected by law, you don’t have to endure it. One of the reasons employment discrimination continues to be a problem is that employees are afraid to do anything about it.
Many companies have policies and procedures in place to deal with discrimination. Unless there is a good reason not to, an employee should usually follow an employer’s guidelines as a first step. By law, an employer must investigate a report of discrimination and take measures to correct any situation resulting in unlawful discrimination.
If an employer fails to correct a discriminatory situation or retaliates against an employee for reporting discrimination, then it’s time to get outside help. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces discrimination laws at the federal level. In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces the state’s employment discrimination laws.
Although it is not necessary to hire an attorney to make a claim with either the EEOC or the DFEH, having an experienced employment discrimination attorney on your side greatly increases your chances of proving discrimination and recovering for the damage that was done to you.
The employment discrimination lawyers at Licata & Yeremenko have helped hundreds of clients succeed with claims for employment discrimination. We can help tell your story so that your experience is understood and your employer is held accountable. For Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, call us at 818-783-5757 or contact us here for a free case evaluation.