Employment discrimination and harassment laws prohibit an employer from discriminating against any employee because on the basis of age, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, a pregnancy, a disability, or perceived disability.
Employment discrimination and harassment are to protect employees against discrimination and harassment in any of the following circumstances:
- racial discrimination;
- hiring and firing;
- promotion, demotion or transfer;
- assignment or classification of employees;
- job advertisements and recruitment;
- use of company facilities;
- layoff, reduction in force (RIF) or forced retirement;
- training and apprenticeship programs;
- retirement plans, health/medical and fringe benefits; and
- disability leave and severance.
Employment discrimination and harassment laws do not generally protect employees from a mean or difficult boss, or even from an employer treating employees differently (for example, giving one employee preferential treatment), unless the reason for the different treatment is based upon of age, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, a pregnancy, a disability, or perceived disability. (In legal terminology, this is referred to as the employee being a member of a “protected class”.) A discrimination claim will only exist if the employee was a member of a protected class, and the employer’s conduct was serious enough to cause the employee substantial harm. There are time limits to filing a discrimination claim against an employer. If an employee believes that his or her employer is violating employment discrimination and harassment laws and that they are being discriminated against, the employee should contact an employee and harassment discrimination attorney immediately to prevent losing out on rights. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for contacting a lawyer or for filing a claim, should the employee choose to do so.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in which an employee is harassed or discriminated against on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by members of opposite sex (man vs. woman, woman vs. man) or by members of the same sex (man vs. man, woman vs. woman). Sexual harassment and sex discrimination are prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and by Title VII under federal law.
Employers are prohibited by law from overtly threatening or implying that an employee’s wages, promotion, evaluation, work shift, or career development depend on performing sexual favors. This type of sexual harassment is called quid pro quo harassment. The second type of sexual harassment consists of unwanted sexual advances, propositions, flirting, inappropriate touching, or sexually graphic verbal abuse, such as describing someone in a sexually demeaning manner, or using sexually suggestive pictures or objects.
If you are an employee who believes you may be the victim of discrimination or harassment, or if you are an employer facing a discrimination or harassment lawsuit, you are urged to contact an attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights.