California Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

by lawdawg on December 3, 2012

  • SumoMe

This article is brought to you by the employment lawyer David Grey of  the Los Angeles law firm Grey Law.

Any discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, ethnicity or national origin is prohibited by both California and federal law. This is to include racial discrimination in all aspects of a position from advertisements for job openings, applications, interviews, hiring, transferring, promoting, pay rate, hours, vacations, firing and all working conditions.

The following Acts exist to prevent any types of discrimination from existing in California’s workplaces:

  • California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • The California Unlawful Business Practices Act
  • California’s Private Attorneys General Act
  • Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964

Two types of discrimination in the workplace:

1. Disparate treatment: This is the classic form of discrimination and exists when a person is treated differently because of their race, ethnicity, etc. This can be proven through direct or indirect evidence in California, and in workplace discrimination cases jurors are instructed to value both types of evidence equally.

2. Disparate impact: This type of discrimination occurs when an employer’s policy benefits one class of employees but not the other. The policies will have a disproportionate adverse effect on a specific group of people. Disparate impact is generally more difficult to recognize and even harder to prove. In most of these types of cases, the employer is not even aware that his or her policy is characterized by any form of discrimination.

Whistleblowers are employees who recognize racial discrimination and inform the government or law-enforcement agency that their employer is exhibiting signs of racial discrimination in the workplace. Under California state law, an employer is legally unable to retaliate against a whistleblower in any form, whether by firing, demoting or treating poorly in the workplace. Employers have a responsibility to their staff to provide a fair and safe work environment, and employees are encouraged to report them if they fail to do so.

Remedies that you may recover in an employment discrimination case:

  • Past lost wages and benefits
  • Future lost wages and benefits
  • General damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney fees

When questioned about their accusations of racial discrimination, employers will often claim that there was a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for any choices they may have made in regards to the employee. Sometimes it can be difficult to provide sufficient evidence and prove that the employer truly was acting unjustly. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney if you think you may have an employment racial discrimination case.

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