Discrimination is against the law, but, unfortunately, it happens in the work place all too often. Discrimination occurs when an employer, supervisor, manager, or even sometimes a co-worker changes the conditions of employment for the worse because the employee, trainee, intern, or apprentice is a member of a protected class.
A protected class is defined in California as the following: race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, military or veteran status. If an employee suffers a loss of pay, demotion, termination, or other negative change in employment status because of that employee’s protected status, then the adverse employment action is discrimination.
In California, the above discrimination laws apply to employers who have five or more employees.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employer harassment directed toward a member of a protected class is unlawful when the harassment is directed at that person because he or she is a member of a protected class. As with discrimination, protected classes include: race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, military or veteran status.
Employees are protected from work place harassment but so are: applicants, unpaid interns, volunteers, and independent contractors. Employers must also prevent work place harassment by third parties who are not employees if the employer knows, or should have known, of the harassment.
Unlike other forms of discrimination, the FEHA anti-harassment law applies to employers who have only one employee or use only one independent contractor. Most often, harassment arises from a hostile work environment that changes the conditions of employment for a member of a protected class. The harassment must be severe or pervasive enough to create an intolerable work environment or prevent the employee from performing his or her job.
While a member of any protected class can suffer unlawful harassment based on a hostile work environment, usually harassment claims arise from sex based hostility or quid pro quo harassment. A sex base hostile work environment occurs from many types of behavior, such as: sexual questions or comments, sexual sounds or gestures, unwanted touching, lustful staring, pornography or crass pictures, sexual jokes, inappropriate comments on appearance, etc. Quid pro quo harassment is based on exchanging a sex related benefit for a work place benefit or to prevent an adverse employment action, like termination or demotion, from happening.
Call Ward Heinrichs today: 858-292-0792
If you are an employee who feels that you have suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, please do not hesitate to contact Ward Heinrichs to get more education about your situation. Likewise, employers should feel free to discuss potential work place discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation that may have occurred on the job. Employers should do an impartial investigation and analysis of the situation and take adequate remedial action when necessary.