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Most Common Types of Workplace Discrimination in California [2024 Updated]

Emanuel Shirazi

California and the rest of the country have made great strides in preventing discrimination in the workplace. Today, state and federal laws prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics like race, disability, and marital status. The number of protected classes grows frequently, which makes understanding the types of workplace discrimination in California important.

If you missed out on a promotion or were retaliated against due to your protected characteristics, you may have legal grounds for taking legal action against the at-fault party. With the right workplace discrimination attorney by your side, you may be entitled to monetary compensation or other forms of relief for the harm done to you.

Common Types of Workplace Discrimination in California

Discrimination is unlawful, and it can cause emotional and financial harm to victims. When an employer or supervisor terminates or takes employee rights away from someone due to their physical characteristics or gender identification, they are engaging in discrimination. The mistreatment of an employee can take many forms. When a worker suffers emotionally, physically, or mentally, they may have legal grounds for holding that at-fault party accountable.

  • Disability/Medical Condition Discrimination: Terminating employees who need medical or disability leave or other medical accommodations is the most common type of discrimination in California.
  • Age Discrimination: If your company decides to lay off workers and only older workers are terminated, that could be an example of age discrimination. Age of 40 and over is a protected characteristic under state and federal law.
  • Gender Discrimination: Any policy that disproportionately affects one gender could be an example of gender discrimination. If a company passes a policy that uses absences as a determiner of who can gain seniority, that policy could adversely affect women who are more likely to take maternity leave at some point in their careers.
  • Harassment: Discrimination can result in harassment. The two often overlap. When a boss sexually harasses a female employee, the harassment is based on discriminatory actions that single out individuals the boss finds sexually attractive.
  • Racial Discrimination: These acts are particularly harmful to the victimized worker due to this country’s history of racial discrimination. A manager who makes a derogatory comment or joke about a particular racial group could be engaging in racial discrimination.
  • Religious Discrimination: Negative or derogatory comments about someone’s religious garb or clothing constitute religious discrimination. Less obvious forms of discrimination may include unnecessary inflexibility concerning religious requirements.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: Negative employment actions based on an individual’s pregnancy are illegal. Employers must also make allowances for employees who have given birth to take care of postpartum needs. In California, this could be 7-12 months of leave if there is post-partum disability as well—which can be stacked with CFRA/FMLA leave and California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law.

Can I Take Legal Action Against the Employer Who Discriminated Against Me?

Workplace discrimination is unlawful in California, and there are legal remedies for addressing discrimination at work. The full scope of damages that can be secured from the at-fault party is considerable. Common losses that can be addressed by hiring an experienced law firm include lost wages, lost benefits, and other forms of compensation.

Damages That Are Caused by Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination often results in emotional harm. Sustained abuse at work can lead to the need for compensation beyond lost wages. Emotional distress damages compensate workers for the psychological damage they incurred because of harassment and discrimination. This can include emotional pain and suffering as well as the fear and stress that the situation caused.

What Other Compensation Can I Obtain From a Workplace Discrimination Claim?

When the courts determine that your employer is at fault, you may be awarded attorney’s fees. This means that the defendant pays for any legal fees that you incur. Another possible outcome of taking legal action is that you may be awarded punitive damages. This is more common in cases where the misconduct on the part of the at-fault party was particularly egregious.

If you were wrongfully fired and want your job back, you may be reinstated as part of the settlement of your case. Some workers understandably prefer not to return to the same employer that violated their rights.


Q: What Is Considered Workplace Discrimination in California?

A: California law prohibits workplace discrimination. Anyone who experiences discrimination or harassment due to their protected characteristic may have grounds for taking legal action. With the help of an employment law attorney, you can gather evidence showing that you were harmed in some way due to the actions of another person at work. You will have to connect the discriminatory actions to your protected characteristic though.

Q: How Can You Prove That You Were Discriminated Against at Work?

A: Your discrimination law attorney can take action on your behalf. They can show that you were discriminated against at work and that your employer violated state and possibly federal laws in doing so. One element that you may have to prove is harm. Discrimination can often lead to emotional and financial harm. Your attorney can also gather evidence to prove that you were targeted due to one or more of your protected characteristics.

Q: What Is the Burden of Proof for Workplace Discrimination?

A: The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff in any civil case alleging that workplace discrimination took place. The employee must prove by 50.1% that they were discriminated against. This means that you and your attorney must gather evidence to support your claims. Testimony, pay stubs, emails, and other forms of evidence can be used to present a strong case that can result in a favorable settlement.

Q: What Makes a Strong Discrimination Case?

A: A strong discrimination case is one that is provable through evidence. When the evidence shows that the at-fault party violated the law, the plaintiff has a good chance of winning their case. Another element that can bolster the plaintiff’s case is when the at-fault party’s actions or misconduct was particularly egregious. This can result in the defendant paying a higher settlement.

Schedule Your Workplace Discrimination Consultation Today

California’s workplace discrimination laws protect employees from being treated unfairly simply due to their protected characteristics. No employer is allowed to take actions that adversely affect a worker based on the worker’s age, sex, religion, gender, and other traits.

Discrimination law is continually evolving. Having an experienced workplace discrimination attorney can improve the chances that your case is resolved with a fair settlement. To schedule your consultation with an attorney at Shirazi Law Firm, PC, contact our office today.

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