Determining whether you have a legitimate discrimination claim can be challenging. Most importantly, California law only protects discrimination on the basis of certain “protected classes,” which include race, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, family status, religion, disability or medical condition, pregnancy. There is usually not any legal remedy for non-protected class situations.

While discrimination can be obvious in some cases, more commonly it can be very subtle, which can be harder to prove. But there is no black-and-white rule to determine what makes a strong legal case for discrimination. It is best to get the opinion of an experienced employment attorney. Some of the factors courts look at, in regard to discrimination include:

  • How severe was the discrimination?
  • How frequently did the discrimination occur?
  • Did the employer know (or should it have known) about the discrimination?
  • Did the employer stop the discrimination from happening again?
  • Did the employee suffer financially – for example, was there wrongful termination in retaliation for complaining about discrimination?

There is no simple rule under the law for what is “severe” or “frequent” discrimination. A single event could be the basis of a discrimination case, if it is serious, like extreme racist or sexist language. Less severe discrimination may also be the basis of a legal claim if it happens often enough to create a “hostile work environment,” and the employer does not take action to stop it.

It is always illegal to retaliate against an employee, such as wrongfully terminating their employment, for any good faith complaint of protected class discrimination.

You may suspect you have suffered workplace discrimination, but it can be hard to know for sure without speaking to a knowledgeable discrimination lawyer who can help you understand your rights as an employee in California. Contact McCormack and Erlich as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and ask any questions you may have.

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