Being Discriminated Against Is Unlawful. You Have Rights.

Being Discriminated Against Is Unlawful. You Have Rights.

Not only is discrimination in the workplace illegal, but it’s humiliating, violating and wrong. Employers today need to adhere to strict anti-discrimination laws and if you feel they have broken them, you need to contact a legal professional for advice. Employment discrimination of any kind is a serious problem and you could be entitled to significant compensation if your employer has discriminated against you.

It Is Time to Fight Back!

It may be tempting to hope discrimination against you at your job will just ‘go away’ or ‘fix itself.’ It won’t. And it is time that you fought back. A FREE consultation with our skilled discrimination law attorneys at Johnson Attorneys Group will help determine how serious your case is and put you on the path to restore your dignity and confidence.

In a perfect world, a person’s race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, physical disability, or age would not prevent them from competing for a job, hinder their chances of getting a promotion, or put them at a greater risk of being laid off or fired. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and unequal pay for equal work, employee segregation and career decisions are many times made using discriminatory bias. We’ve outlined what protected classes are and some steps you can take should you feel discriminated against.

Employment Discrimination

It’s not uncommon for these same employers to extend privileges, benefits or bonuses to certain employees and not to others. Employers cannot take certain actions against employees that are considered discriminatory:

  • Refuse to employ someone based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, age, or religion
  • Treat an employee or a prospective employee less favorably than others because of a protected characteristic
  • Fail to provide workplace accommodations for a disabled employee.
  • People with certain characteristics as mentioned above are protected by federal and state laws

Federal and State Anti-Discrimination Laws

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities in Employment Act and other federal, as well as, state laws, an employer may not treat people with protected status any differently than others. This law applies to employers with at least 15 employees or with 20 employees if a claim of age discrimination is made.

A California employee may also file a complaint with the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). This allows the employee to seek immediate relief in court. In contrast, the federal law does not provide this and they are required to wait until the EEOC completes an investigation first prior to filing a lawsuit.

How to Prove Employment Discrimination

So how does a person who believes they have suffered discrimination prove their claim? First, you must be able to show that the employer treated you differently because of the characteristic. It may help your case if the employer has also treated other employees with this same protected characteristic unfairly. These actions may be overt or subtle. Some employees may be harassed by their employer or other employees may be the culprit. A mass layoff that affected only women or people of a certain race may also support a discrimination claim.

Evidence to Support your Discrimination Case

Direct evidence is the best way to support your potential discrimination case against an employer.

Examples of direct evidence are memos, letters, emails, and phone messages. Keep a journal and write down anything that the employer says to you that may be considered discriminatory. A copy of your employment contract is also a crucial piece of evidence. Request one if you do not have one, but it should have been provided to you when you were hired. A lawyer may also find out if other employees have sued your employer for discrimination.

Protected Classes/Characteristics for Employment Discrimination

  • Race or Color
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation

Race or Color

This refers to a person’s physical appearance. An employee may be told they don’t “fit in” with others. A person’s hair may be criticized or used as a reason for not letting them work with customers, there could be an environment where racial slurs are used against minorities. A minority employee could be segregated to non-customer contact positions or replaced with a white employee up front in a business.

National Origin

A person’s national origin differs from racial discrimination as it is based on where they are from and not their physical appearance. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 employers with at least 15 employees may not discriminate based upon the individual's birthplace, ancestry, culture, linguistic characteristics (common to a specific group) or accent.

Gender Discrimination and Pregnancy

A person is treated differently simply because they are male or female, rather than on the basis of their individual skills or capabilities.
Employers have been known to discriminate against pregnant women, they may sexually harass a woman or a man with unwelcome sexual advances or verbal and physical harassment based on your gender.


Employers must reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of applicants and employees, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operation of the employer's business. Teasing may not be protected unless it is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment.

Age Discrimination Laws

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) bars employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating against employees 40 years or older. There is also a California law Government Code §§12940 and 12941 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age. This state law also provides an employee to claim emotional distress and punitive damages. In California, salary may not be used as a basis for selecting employees for termination. Employers may not force a person to retire at a certain age.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees or job applicants with disabilities from being discriminated against. The employer may not treat them differently in terms of pay, promotion, firing, etc. The employer must also provide accommodations for a physical disability or a mental disability.

Sexual Orientation

The same federal laws that forbid employers from discriminating against an employee on the basis of their sex, also extends to men and women who have a different sexual orientation.

Contact Our California Employment Law Firm

We at Johnson Attorneys Group understand that this may be a difficult time in your life and we are here to help. Our lawyers would like to discuss your potential case. We offer a free initial consultation where we can go over your employment issues. If we decide to take your case, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay any fees unless you win or recover compensation. Call us at 800-235-6801 for help.

Answers to Common Employment Law California Questions

My Employer Isn’t Giving Me Time with My Newborn. Can I Fight This?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, federal law dictates specific guidelines to allow for growing families to have time with their children and time to recover after a pregnancy. If you feel your employer is violating the FMLA, you owe it to yourself and your family to get professional legal help. We are the leading attorneys in employer law and we will fight to get you the time you need with your family.

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I Feel I’m Being Discriminated Against. How Do I Know?

The law outlines very specific characteristics that are protected from harassment. If you believe you are being harassed on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or religion, it’s time to pick up the phone and call our office for a consultation. Discrimination is a serious crime and you do not have to take it any longer. Call us today for a FREE consult to understand your rights under the law.

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I Am Disabled and My Employer Doesn’t Help Me. What Can I Do?

Every employer in California is REQUIRED to make accommodations for various disabilities in California. The American Disabilities Act outlines specific guidelines for this and if your employer is not providing you the tools you need to do your job, they are breaking the law. Let our team at Johnson Attorneys Group stand by your side and fight back against unlawful behavior in the workplace.

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