The 5 Most Common Types of Workplace Discrimination in California

Workplace discrimination refers to an employer, manager or supervisor treating an employee differently because of his or her sex, gender, gender identity, age, disability or another protected category. Discrimination is a common issue in workplaces in California. In 2018 alone, the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) received 27,840 complaints regarding discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Certain types of discrimination are more common than others in California’s work environments.

Disability Discrimination

The most common type of discrimination complaint in California in 2018 was disability discrimination (3,132 complaints to the DFEH). Disability was also the second most common right-to-sue request (11,649 counts). Disability discrimination refers to treating an employee or job applicant differently due to his or her need for reasonable accommodations for a disability.

As long as an individual can perform the necessary duties of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations, the employer cannot discriminate against the worker in terms of hiring or firing decisions. Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to make minor accommodations to hire someone with a disability, such as an employee who is mobility- or hearing-impaired.

Retaliation Discrimination

In 2018, the most common type of discrimination that led to employees in California requesting the right to sue (17,697 requests) was retaliation. It was the second most common overall complaint, with 2,785. Retaliation is a leading cause of complaints and lawsuits due to thousands of employers unlawfully punishing their workers for reporting harassment, discrimination, or health and safety code violations. Retaliation can refer to complaint-based mistreatment such as job termination, pay cuts, demotions, scheduling changes and forced relocations.

Sexual Discrimination

The third most common type of DFEH complaint was sexual discrimination, with 1,350 complaints filed for investigation and 8,584 right-to-sue requests. Sex and gender discrimination focus on an employee’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, relationship status, or pregnancy to make employment decisions. It is against the law in California for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or worker based on his or her sex, gender or sexual orientation.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination led to 1,289 DFEH complaints and 5,474 right-to-sue requests in California in 2018. It is against federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for an employer to treat someone differently based on his or her race, color, ethnicity, country of origin or religion. Some employers discriminate based on race blatantly, while others know the law but subtly enforce racist protocols at work, such as dress codes that discriminate against certain hair types. Employees have the right to file claims and bring lawsuits against their employers for any type of race-based discrimination.

Age Discrimination

It is somewhat common for a company to discriminate against workers based on age. Replacing an older long-standing employee with someone younger based only on age is an example of age discrimination. Ageism in the workplace led to 1,214 DFEH complaints and 5,833 right-to-sue requests in 2018. Companies may commit age discrimination to achieve a young, hip image for branding purposes or based on the belief that an older worker cannot keep up with a younger worker. Employers may also practice ageism to avoid paying pensions and to decrease the costs of health insurance benefits for older employees.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney

Discrimination is a harmful problem that pervades thousands of workplaces in California. Discrimination and harassment at work can lead to the unfair loss of a job, lost wages and emotional distress for a victim. Many types of discrimination in California could negatively impact you.

If you are the victim of discrimination, work with an LA discrimination attorney to file an official complaint against your employer with the DFEH or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A lawyer can help you with the claims process as well as file a lawsuit against the company on your behalf, if applicable. A lawsuit could end in money damages for your economic and noneconomic discrimination-related losses.