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Employment discrimination is a serious problem nation-wide. California employees expect to be judged on their performance, not based on their race, national origin, religion, gender, disability, medical condition, age or other protected trait. If you have suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination, demotion, transfer, or loss of pay or benefits, or any other negative employment action due to any protected characteristic, a qualified employment attorney can help you make sense of what to do next. Title 7 of Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act are two of the best sets of laws for asserting your rights.

Pay discrimination is a more subtle example of inequality at work. The United States Department of Labor staffs a unit called the Bureau of Labor Statics. They publish facts on discrimination, among other topics, annually. Recent statistics show that women continue to receive less pay than men for the similar work. Women also often get passed over for promotions and receive lower raises than their male counterparts. Women also get treated differently due to health and disability issues related to pregnancy, post-natal care, and child care responsibilities.

African American and Hispanic employees generally receive less pay than white women for the same work. Asian American employees often find their resumes considered more seriously for engineering, science and math related positions and get less positive feedback from job recruiters in the legal profession, for example. Call a qualified employment attorney now if you believe you are being unfairly treated due to who you are instead of your job performance, educational background, or work experience.

California passed important legislation, enacted in 2018, that attempts to decrease pay disparities and prevent wage discrimination. California Labor Code Section 432.3 prevents employers from asking applicants about their salary history. The rationale is that because past payment practices have been unfair for women and non-white workers, when compared to white males, asking about past salary, and basing future pay on applicants’ answers (for any applicant) perpetuates unequal treatment.

The single most common type of discrimination is mistreatment or harassment due to a medical condition or disability. For this reason, Spencer Young Law PC focuses a great deal of employment law advising and litigation with the goal of decreasing this phenomenon. Common questions we receive from employees in Oakland and San Francisco include:

  1. Does my employer have to give me the accommodation my doctor told them to?
  2. If I need to take time off to get medical treatment, can my employer terminate me or decrease my pay?
  3. What types of leave can I use while I am pregnant or after my baby arrives?
  4. My employer has excluded me from meetings and projects ever since they gave me time off for my cancer treatment. What should I do?
  5. Can I work from home while I am recovering my car accident?
  6. My doctor asked for an accommodation but my employer refuses to grant it or talk to me about it. What should I do?
  7. What kind of compensation can I get for my employer terminating me while I was out on leave?
  8. My employer has been accommodating my physical disability, but will not give me time off to see my therapist for the stress and anxiety related to my condition. Am I entitled to good faith communication and an interactive process about that too?
  9. I was put on a performance improvement plan right after I came back from pregnancy leave, what are my rights?
  10. I take leave for chemotherapy only to find that I no longer had a job at the same place for the same rate of pay. Isn’t that retaliation?

The answers to these questions are not a simple “yes” or “no”. Disability discrimination and harassment requires a case by case analysis by a skilled employment attorney. We love taking on these challenging cases because it simply wrong to make matters worse for an employee because they fell upon hard times.

California employees also have protections for religious dress and religious holidays. Your boss can tell you to dress “professionally”, but they generally can not tell you to remove your head scarf or prevent you from observing a religiously significant event.

California protects your right to not get fired for making allegations of race or national origin discrimination. If you witness discrimination of any kind, you are entitled to wrongful termination damages if you get fired for providing witness testimony supporting a harassment or discrimination claim.

Age discrimination is common in our increasingly technologically oriented workplaces. If you are over forty years old and terminated because you “can not keep up with the youngsters” or your ideas are “too dated”, call us to find out whether you have recourse. If you are an employer who has received allegations of discrimination, trust us to advise you on how to respond, how to investigate, and how to assert a legitimate business justification for your actions.

Finally, please note that there are time limits to how long employees have to assert discrimination, retaliation and harassment complaints. A recent California employment law update in 2020 allows victims a three-year period to make allegations to the appropriate agency, such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It is crucial to speak with a local employment lawyer before finalizing any complaints with the DFEH and/or EEOC. Failure to make all reasonable claims, state sufficient facts, and check the right boxes can lead to difficult challenges later on. If you are California employee and the DFEH or EEOC declined to continue investigating and issued a “Right to Sue” notice, call now to see if filing an employment lawsuit is in your best interest.

Client Reviews
Great response time! Very thorough! Knows his stuff! My experience was first rate and would recommend Mr. Young because he took the time to address my concerns, provide clear examples, and most importantly, he listened. Ben A.
Mr Young is a brilliant young man with an astounding ability to sort through the dross of a situation, and get a handle on the true issues. And with all that having been said, he communicates with compassion, making sure you understand your options. I recommend him unreservedly. Robert W.
Super responsive and knowledgeable - Spencer not only responded to my inquiry over the weekend but called me immediately on Monday and took time to explain my legal options even though the case wasn't a good fit for his firm. Quincy S.