Los Angeles Discrimination Attorneys
Have you been the victim of discrimination at work? The Los Angeles discrimination attorneys at Mathew & George have the experience to handle your case. Reach out to our team if you have any questions about California discrimination laws or if you think you may have a discrimination case. We’ll interview you in a free consultation and let you know what legal recourse is available.
What is Workplace Discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when an adverse employment action happens to an employee based on race, color, religion, disability, or another protected status. Some common adverse actions include:
- Rejecting an application or firing an employee based on their protected status
- Denying an employee a promotion when they meet the necessary qualifications
- Isolating employees
- Undue negative evaluations or criticisms
- Not providing equal pay to workers in similar positions
- Any display of prioritizing one protected group over another
What Legally Qualifies as Discrimination?
Many different actions and behaviors could legally qualify as discrimination in California. Virtually any action or inaction based on someone’s protected class could be discrimination. Someone’s actions do not have to result in an adverse employment action to qualify as discrimination. Even if no one gets hurt, a coworker or employer could be guilty of discrimination. To have grounds for a civil claim, however, the discrimination must have caused compensable damages.
Unlawful discrimination describes any unfair or unequal treatment of a person or group based on protected characteristics. Discrimination is a breach of civil rights. The civil law against discrimination at work is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law defines discrimination in the workplace as an employment practice such as unlawfully terminating, refusing to hire, punishing, limiting, segregating or classifying employees based on their race, religion, color, sex or national origin.
If you are not sure whether actions or biases against you qualify as discrimination, discuss your case with an attorney from Mathew & George. We have years of experience handling discrimination and harassment claims in California and know how to recognize red flags and warning signs. Let us listen to your story, investigate your workplace and help you prove discrimination in LA.
Types of Discrimination Cases We handle
Our discrimination lawyers handle the following types of cases throughout California:
- Age Discrimination
- Sex/Gender Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Racial Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
Starting a Discrimination Lawsuit in Los Angeles
Review your Company’s Internal Discrimination Policy
Before seeking legal aid or filing a complaint with the EEOC or DFEH, follow your company’s internal discrimination protocol. It should outline your rights and indicate who to speak with regarding your complaint. Most importantly, ask them to investigate your situation. In some cases, an internal investigation will solve the problem efficiently. During this time it is also smart to document evidence. Hold onto any evidence that display discriminatory intent or civil rights violations for our attorneys to review. Keep a diary or notes of any interactions that displayed discrimination. As a result, this will bolster your case when speaking with the appropriate people.
File a Discrimination Claim with the EEOC or DFEH
If internal investigations within your company go no where, then you must speak with the appropriate agency. Depending on the jurisdiction and type of discrimination case, you may file with either the EEOC or DFEH. Claims must adhere to the appropriate statute of limitations. The clock begins from the date when the employee became aware of the discriminatory conduct.
After the agency receives a complaint, an investigation will take place. This investigation can take up to 10 months. During this investigation, the agency will obtain pertinent evidence of the employer’s illegal conduct. If the agency determines that workplace discrimination did occur, one of several things may happen:
- They will arrange a settlement meeting between the employer and the employee. During this meeting, the agency will mediate an appropriate settlement to end the claim and compensate the employee.
- The agency will issue a “right to sue” letter. The employee will receive this if settlement negotiations fail or if the investigation deems that no discrimination took place. The employee may still pursue a lawsuit if he or she chooses to do so.
It is important to note that filing a claim with one agency will generally automatically file with the other. There is a work sharing agreements between both agencies.
How Can I Prove Discrimination?
Suspecting discrimination at work may not be enough to hold the offender accountable. During a claim, you or your attorney must prove the defendant’s discrimination to win your case. Proving discrimination takes documenting your experience in detail. Keep track of your experience from the very beginning, writing down what happened in a journal or computer document. Then, work with a law firm to gather evidence against the perpetrator.
• Previous complaints against the individual or company
• Eyewitness statements
• Statements or emails from your employer
• Evidence of biases toward certain groups or people
• Copies of your HR complaints
• Employment contract breaches
• Testimony from coworkers
A discrimination lawsuit will require the plaintiff’s side to establish the defendant’s guilt. Hiring an employment attorney from Mathew & George could help you with this burden of proof as an employee. Our attorneys can visit your workplace, search for potential sources of evidence, speak with your coworkers and take over communications with your employer about your discrimination case on your behalf.
Compensation for a Discrimination Claim
In most discrimination cases, the settlement or lawsuit award will attempt to rectify any negative actions taken against the plaintiff. This is an attempt to help things return to how they were before the discrimination took place. Damages typically include the following:
- Back pay for lost wages. This can include cases where the employee should have received a higher rate but did not due to the employer’s discriminatory conduct.
- Front pay for lost wages. This replaces wages lost in the time between the case’s final judgment and the employee’s reinstatement. In some cases, reinstatement may not be possible. The employee will receive alternative compensation.
- Lost benefits. These include health, vacation, or pension benefits.
- Reasonable accommodations. The ruling may force the employer to make reasonable accommodations for the employee’s situation. For example, an employee may sue an employer for refusing to install a small wheelchair ramp. If the employee wins his or her lawsuit, the employer will likely need to install the ramp as part of the employee’s compensation.
- Punitive damages. Some judges will require an employer to pay the plaintiff if the case involved extreme conduct. Punitive damages punish a defendant for egregious wrongdoings.
The EEOC prohibits employers from favoring or mistreating an employee or applicant based on age. However, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only restricts discriminatory actions against people over the age of 40. Some states have special laws designed to protect the rights of younger workers. California prohibits discrimination against employees over the age of 40. This includes apprenticeships and any other employer with 20 or more employees.
Some newer industries tend to appeal to younger professionals and applicants. That does not mean older individuals should face discrimination. If they have the necessary skill and training to fulfill the requirements of a job, they cannot be discriminated against.
It is also important to note that the age of the discriminatory employer does not matter. Discrimination by an employer younger that the employee is the same as discrimination by an older employer. Age discrimination can still occur when both parties are over the age of 40, even if the employer is older than the employee.
Many people associate sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination. Sexual discrimination is treating an employee favorably or unfavorably compared to other employees, due to his or her sex.
Gender discrimination is treating applicants or employees differently due to their gender identities or sexual orientation. This mainly applies to members of the LGBTQ community.
It is important to note that some forms of sexual discrimination may not be of a sexual nature. This can include:
- Offensive remarks about a woman’s pregnancy
- Refusing to promote a woman solely because she may have a child and take maternity leave
- Not hiring a qualified applicant due to his or her sexual orientation
Disability discrimination describes treating a disabled employee less favorably due to their disability. The EEOC and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also obligate employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. This includes accommodations like installing a wheelchair ramp or rails. These must be installed as long as they would not cause “undue hardship” or significant expense to the employer.
It is important to understand what qualifies as a disability under the employment laws of the United States and California. A person is classified as disabled if he or she fulfills at least one of three possible criteria:
- Having any mental or physical condition that significantly hinders major life activities. This includes speech, mobility, hearing, or learning impairments.
- Having a history of disability, such as a former cancer patient who is in remission.
- Having any mental or physical impairment that lasts longer than six months.
Employers cannot ask questions about a potential employee’s medical history or require a medical exam to qualify for a job. Employers cannot ask an employee about the nature of even obvious disabilities. The only acceptable questions an employer may ask about a disability are:
- Whether or not it will impact the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job.
- If the applicant will require any special accommodations.
For more information, please visit our page on The Americans with Disabilities Act.
Racial discrimination occurs when an adverse action is taken against an applicant or employee due to their:
- National Origin
- Skin color
This can also apply when employers take negative actions against employees who are married to people of a certain race or color. Racial discrimination can still take place when the employer and the employee are the same race or color.
Discrimination on the basis of race also includes promoting any particular ethnic groups or racial traits. Employers cannot show undue favor toward a particular race or denigrate a race in any way. Additionally, light teasing is common in many personal interactions. If the employee faces sustained criticism, cruel racial jokes, or inappropriate remarks, they can file racial discrimination charges.
Employers cannot discriminate against employees or applicants due to their religious beliefs. These laws apply to followers of large traditional religions. The law also protects any other individuals with strongly held religious beliefs. An example of this could be an employer denying an applicant employment because he or she is an atheist. Religious discrimination applies to lack of belief the same as any other belief system.
Employers must also make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices and beliefs. This could include allowing time off for religious holidays or other religious activities. Employers must also allow employees wear religious clothing. Employers are not required to make any accommodations if doing so creates an undue hardship or a significant expense.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protects a pregnant woman’s employment rights. Pregnancy discrimination also applies to childbirth and nursing. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects pregnant women from losing their jobs. Mothers have the right to deliver their babies and return to the same job once their maternity leave concludes. Additionally, nursing mothers must be allowed to take breaks to use breast milk pumps at work. Employers must take care to provide an appropriate, private room with a lockable door. Bathrooms are not acceptable choices. The employer may need to move the employee to a private office temporarily or reserve other rooms for certain times of the day. Talk to an experienced Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer to learn more about the rights pregnant and nursing mother’s have in the workplace.
Fear of Filing a Complaint or Taking Legal Action
It is normal to feel nervous about bringing a discrimination complaint or lawsuit against your employer. It may seem easier to keep your head down and work under discriminatory conditions than to deal with a lawsuit. However, no employee should have to accept a workplace that feels hostile or unsafe due to discrimination and/or harassment. California laws offer strong protections for employees. You and your lawyer can use these laws in your favor to hold an employer accountable for discrimination.
Do not fear taking legal action due to the possibility of retaliation. Retaliation is another illegal activity under federal and California state employment laws. If your employer demotes, penalizes, fires or otherwise punishes you because you reported discrimination at work, you could have grounds for an additional retaliation lawsuit. A retaliation suit aims to establish the employer took an adverse action against you for unlawful reasons, such as for reporting discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
A tort action based on retaliation could result in payment for your damages. Your attorney could fight for additional compensation for retaliation on top of a discrimination lawsuit. A positive verdict could result in the reinstatement of your job, as well as payment for lost wages, back pay, fines, penalties, legal fees and punitive damages. Do not fear filing a complaint or taking legal action against discrimination. These are protected activities under California law. Should you face retaliation, a lawyer from Mathew & George can help you file an additional claim against your employer.
Contact Us to Review Your Case
Every discrimination case will differ, and the types and amount of compensation possible changes for every claim. Therefore, one of the most important steps you can take is to connect with a qualified, experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer.
Mathew & George has a reputation for excellence in employment law claims for residents of California. Part of the reason why we have such a stellar record is because we maintain a limited caseload. We believe in taking the time to get to know every one of our clients’ situations inside and out. Our firm provides compassionate and courteous legal representation to our clients. We aggressively pursue fair settlements and court awards. Contact us us today to learn more. Now serving clients in Irvine
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