Harassment and Discrimination
The experienced California employment attorneys at Miller Wilmers APC, a Los Angeles based law firm, have dealt with every form of discrimination and harassment and understand the complexity in which these situations may arise. Discrimination does not always come in the form of termination and may be something much more subtle, but which changes the environment and working conditions as a whole.
Harassment and Discrimination
We are raised in society with an understanding that harassment and discrimination is wrong and illegal. Unfortunately, it still sometimes exists in the workplace today, and is rampant among large corporations who do everything they can to address the issue except stop it and punish the wrongdoers. Corporate education on harassment and discrimination is still sorely lacking and corporations only require managers sign their name on "mandatory" training and move on. This has hardly stopped the issue. Harassment and discrimination is illegal in the workplace in California of any employee on the basis of actual or perceived race, religious creed, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, national origin, ancestry, marital status, medical condition as defined by state law (cancer or genetic characteristics), disability, military service and veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws and ordinances.
Discrimination at work, whether by a co-worker or your employer, can take many forms. There are some situations where the harassment is more outright and others that may be veiled. Actions taken against you without words being said can also constitute harassment and discrimination. Miller Wilmers APC was founded by attorneys with extensive experience in harassment and discrimination lawsuits in Los Angeles, California.
There are a number of ways that discrimination can transpire in the workplace, including:
- Firing someone
- Not allowing the proper training
- Unnecessarily disciplining them
- Not giving someone a promotion they may be qualified for
- Unequal or less pay
*Author's Note: Harassment and Discrimination is not always obvious, and it is not always verbal. It can simply be that you are ignored versus other employees who do not share the same protected characteristics. A failure to be provided the same treatment that other employees are receiving, even when you feel no one is directly harassing you. Any unequal treatment that is derived from a protected characteristic such as your race, sexual orientation or any of the above listed protected characteristics would be a violation of Federal and State law.
File a Complaint Within Your Organization
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace, your first step should always be to report it to your employer or HR department as soon as possible, in writing.
There are a number of reasons to take this vital step:
- Give your employer the opportunity to resolve the problem. They should always take an employee complaint seriously and cannot legally retaliate against you because you complained about a protected issue.
- You create open communication around the problem
- You have a clear line of communication and evidence via documentation that you reported the incident. This will help prove your discrimination case should legal action be necessary.
Anti-retaliation provisions in discrimination laws make it illegal for an employer to demote you or fire you for filing a complaint. Retaliation from your employer in response to your complaint should be discussed with an exceptionally experienced discrimination lawyer.
Many employers in California also have an affirmative obligation to train supervisors on sexual harassment prevention, but have outright ignored every other form of harassment and discrimination. Importantly, this sexual harassment training is limited and is seen simply as a check in the box for corporations. When presented with an allegation of sexual harassment, or any other form of harassment and discrimination, an employer must conduct a reasonable investigation and take appropriate action.
Types of discrimination that are prohibited by federal law are:
- Age: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their age. The victim must be 40 years of age or older.
- Disability: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act.
- Equal Pay/Compensation: When an employee or job applicant is paid less in wages, overtime pay, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, or other benefits because of their gender. The law states that men and women must receive equal pay for equal work.
- Genetic Information: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of genetic information.
- Illegal Harassment: When an employee or job applicant is a target of unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected characteristic (race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy), and this conduct creates a hostile work environment or becomes a condition of the victim's continued employment.
- National Origin: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they are (or appear to be) from a different country or different ethnicity.
- Pregnancy: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy or childbirth-related medical condition.
- Race/Color: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they are of a different race or have a different color of skin.
- Religion: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their religious beliefs.
- Retaliation: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because they complained about illegal treatment or filed a lawsuit about illegal treatment.
- Sex or Gender: When an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of their sex.
- Sexual Harassment: When an employee or job applicant is a target of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical or verbal sexually harassing behaviors.
If you feel you have been harassed or discriminated against by your employer for any of the above protected characteristics, Contact us for a FREE consultation so we may begin to assist you in seeking justice.