What is discrimination in the workplace?

There are very specific federal and California employment laws that determine whether an employer’s actions qualify as discrimination. An employee simply experiencing unfair treatment from the employer is not enough to establish a discrimination claim.

Unfair treatment becomes unlawful if an employer discriminates against the employee based on their membership in a “protected class.” Under California law, people are in protected classes on the basis of:

  • Race or Color
  • Religious Creed
  • National Origin or Ancestry
  • Physical Disability, Mental Disability or Medical Condition
  • Marital Status
  • Sex/Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity or Gender Expression
  • Age
  • Military or Veteran Status
  • Genetic Information

In order to bring a discrimination claim against the employer under California law, the employee must show that they belong to one of the protected categories listed above. The employee must also show that the employer subjected them to an adverse employment action that was motivated by the discrimination.

An adverse employment action can include a termination, pay cut, denied promotion, demotion, transfer, unfavorable job assignment or any other conduct that negatively affects the terms and conditions of employment. For example, if an older worker is fired despite performing their job well consistently, he or she may have an age discrimination claim.

McCormack & Erlich has an extensive background helping people who have experienced discrimination on the job, including permanent and temporary employees.

Other Discrimination and Harassment FAQs:

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