The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), California Government Code §12940, makes it unlawful for a California employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of 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, or military and veteran status.
Often, race discrimination, gender discrimination, and other kinds of unlawful discrimination culminate in a wrongful termination. This is when the employer fires an employee based on his or her membership in a protected class. Other times, employment discrimination involves an unfair suspension, demotion, cut in pay, cut in hours, or some similar change to the terms of employment.
Many employees who are fired or otherwise treated differently believe they’ve been targeted based on their race, gender, pregnancy, disability, or other protected characteristic, but ask “How do I prove I’ve been discriminated against?” A three-step test applies in evaluating claims for discrimination. First, the employee who’s been targeted for discrimination must make a prima facie case that she’s been treated differently based on some protected characteristic. If the employee meets this burden, a presumption of discrimination arises, and the burden shifts to the employer to show that its action was taken for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. If the employer sustains this burden, the presumption of discrimination disappears, and the employee has the opportunity to attack the employer’s offered reasons as pretext for discrimination. This often involves proving that other employees who are not in the same protected class did not receive the same mistreatment.
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you on the basis of your race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status, contact a knowledgeable employment attorney to schedule a consultation to assess your rights.