workplace discrimination lawyer

Although workplace discrimination is unlawful in California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sent 19,492 discrimination complaints to employers in 2020. If you have experienced employment discrimination at one of the 12,627 Lancaster businesses, we are here to help.

What Does a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Do?

California is an at-will employment state. Thus, an employer can terminate your employment for any reason as long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory. A Lancaster workplace discrimination attorney helps those who experience discrimination in employment or while seeking employment through the legal process. The law allows those harmed by discriminatory decision-making to recover damages and fight against harmful employment practices.

What Is Discrimination in the Workplace?

Under California law, employees have a right to a workplace free of harassment and discrimination. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides a way for an employee or applicant who experiences discrimination to hold employers accountable and recover for the violation. FEHA makes it discrimination for an employer to take an adverse employment action based on an employee’s protected status. FEHA also prohibits employment practices that appear neutral but have a disparate impact on a protected group. Harassment based on a protected class is also prohibited.

What Is an Adverse Employment Action?

To be unlawful, the employer’s decision to take the adverse action must have been substantially motivated by the employee’s protected status. Not all employment decisions are adverse to employees under the law. Actions that only anger or upset an employee are not considered legally adverse. To qualify as an adverse action, the employer’s decision must materially impact the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, such as:

  • Hiring,
  • Firing,
  • Undeserved discipline,
  • Failing to promote or provide raises,
  • Pay reduction, and
  • Demotion.

Conduct that impairs an employee’s job performance or prospects for advancement or promotion is prohibited if done for a discriminatory or retaliatory reason. Your Lancaster attorney can help you determine whether the discriminatory conduct you endured qualifies as an adverse employment action.

What Is Required for a Claim Under FEHA?

A discrimination claim under FEHA requires proof that an employee’s protected status was a substantial motivation for the employer’s adverse action. FEHA protects more workers than the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). These federal civil rights laws enforced by EEOC protect race, color, religion, sex, national origin, individuals with disabilities, and those 40 and older. California law is much broader, allowing discrimination claims based on ancestry, medical conditions, genetic information, marital status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or veteran or military status.

If you experience discrimination or harassment, you can file a complaint with DFEH or file a lawsuit against the employer on your own. However, we strongly advise to contact us before you file a complaint with the DFEH because there are important decisions to be made at this time in your potential case.  When you file with DFEH, the department may choose to investigate and prosecute the claim. DFEH claims must often go to mediation before proceeding to court. If you want to sue an employer without a DFEH investigation and mediation, you must request a right-to-sue notice. Whether DFEH investigates first or you and your legal team take on the case, the right-to-sue notice informs the court that your discrimination claim has the merits to go to court.  Again, it is important to consult with an attorney before involving the DFEH.

What Is Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

Under FEHA, age discrimination occurs when an employee endures an adverse action because they are over 40. FEHA guarantees that those over 40 can access employment opportunities based on their abilities and not on age-based stereotypes and unsupported generalizations. In addition, FEHA protects workers from unlawful mandatory retirement programs.

How Does California Define Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

FEHA’s definition of gender discrimination encompasses negative employment actions motivated by sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. FEHA requires employers to allow an employee who has worked for at least 12 months to take parental leave. Finally, California employers must treat a pregnant employee the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. 

The Law Office of John Dalton: Lancaster Workplace Discrimination Attorney Working for You

You deserve to feel safe and comfortable in your workplace. California civil rights law protects people like you from discrimination and harassment. You may feel helpless after you experience an adverse employment action substantially motivated by discrimination. 

We will fight for you and your rights no matter which protected group you belong to. We have secured tens of millions of dollars in recovery for our clients against some of the largest employers in the nation. When you call our office, Mr. Dalton will often personally answer your call, listen to your situation, and explain your options. Don’t wait—employees only have a short time to make discriminatory employment claims.

Our experienced lawyer also handles other types of employment cases including: