Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP

One third of your life is spent at work. Considering the significant investment of your life this represents, it should only be fair that your work environment is one of mutual respect and cooperation. But quite often this isn’t the case and the work environment is actually a breeding ground for toxic discrimination.

The first step towards affecting change in the workplace is to recognize discrimination when it happens. There can be a lot of anxiety around identifying workplace discrimination, as people often worry they’ll lose their jobs or face harsh criticism for speaking up against the workplace’s culture. Thankfully there are checks and balances in place to help those looking to fight against discrimination in their workplace, as well as employment law attorneys dedicated to protecting your employment rights.

How Can I Spot Workplace Discimination in California?

Workplace discrimination can come in many forms. The most common are:

  • Favoritism from Management: Preferential treatment is a form of discrimination in which an employee or a group of employees is given better treatment (such as perks like nicer offices or preferable assignments).
  • Denied Promotions: Denied promotions don’t necessarily mean that there is discrimination at play but repeatedly being denied promotions you are capable of handling can be.
  • Degrading or Insulting Comments from Management: Management speaking to you in a degrading or insulting manner is a clear example of workplace discrimination that filters into the workplace from the top.
  • Demeaning or Insulting Comments from Coworkers: Demeaning or insulting comments from your coworkers should lead to management stepping in to address the problem. But if management overlooks these comments or underplays them, then they are promoting discrimination within the workplace.
  • Lack of Diversity: A lack of diversity is reflective of discriminating hiring practices. This results in a workplace where most people are the same race, gender or age and those that aren’t are typically made to feel token.
  • Inappropriate Interview Questions: Another sign that there is discrimination in the hiring process are questions that are inappropiate. These could be demeaning questions or questions which are predicated on stereotypes.
  • Positions That Never Change: Fixed positions can be a sign of favoritism. If there are people whose position never changes, despite their actions necessitating change, then it could be a sign of discrimination.

These are just the most common forms of workplace discrimination. How these forms of workplace discrimination manifest can come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. For example, insulting comments might come in the more readily noticeable form of racism or sexism but they could also come in the form of ableism or discrimination against an individual’s medical conditions, martial status or sexual orientation. These may manifest differently but they are all different forms of workplace discrimination.

Is Workplace Discrimination Always Easy to Identify?

Workplace discrimination is not always easy to identify. In fact, it can be quite hard to identify at times and this allows it to go untreated. Signs of discrimination such as a lack of diversity can be hard to spot in a larger company, as you may think there is more diversity in other departments. Likewise, a high turnover rate is often a sign of workplace discrimination but this discrimination could be happening in private and thus be hard to spot.

If you suspect that there is discrimination happening in your workplace then keep an eye out for the signs. They might not be immediately visible, such as with favoritism or promotion denial, but once you are aware of what to look for you’ll be able to more easily identify it.

One thing to remember is that discrimination may be hard to identify when looking at a single case, such as lack of diversity, but can be easier to spot when combined with multiple signs, such as if there is a lack of diversity, favoritism from management and a history denied promotions in the same workplace.

What Will Happen to Me If I Speak Up About Workplace Discrimination?

When faced with discrimination in the workplace it can be frightening. People worry that they will lose their job or have their reputation tarnished by coming forward. However, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it illegal for your employer to discriminate against you on the grounds of:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Skin Color
  • National Origin
  • Physical Disability
  • Medical Conditions
  • Mental Disability
  • Gender or Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Ancestry
  • Military or Veteran Status
  • Marital Status
  • Predisposition to Genetic Hereditary Disease

If you are being discriminated against on any of these grounds then the law is on your side and as such you are offered its protection for coming forth. Your employer is not able to retaliate against you, such as by firing you. If an employer does retaliate against an employer for reporting workplace discrimination then they open themselves up to further lawsuits.

A discrimination claim can be filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal employment Opportunity Commission. Both agencies cooperate with each other so you don’t need to file a claim with both. However, California’s anti-discrimination laws cover a wider range than the federal laws and it could be beneficial to file your claim through the DFEH. If you’re unsure how this is done, we’re always here to help.

What is the Law Regarding Racial Discrimination by Employers?

If you are a target of racial discrimination at your place of work, that discrimination needs to stop now. A San Francisco racial discrimination attorney will help you stop it.

What constitutes illegal workplace racial discrimination under federal and state law? How do you know if you should file a workplace racial discrimination claim? What steps should you take? What will a San Francisco employment rights lawyer do on your behalf?

Keep reading this short discussion of workplace racial discrimination and your rights, and you’ll find the answers to these questions, but if you are personally confronting racial discrimination at work, you should arrange at once to discuss your rights with a California employment lawyer.

Is There Still Workplace Racial Discrimination in California?

As recently as 2022, Anna Park, an attorney for the Los Angeles district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) told the Los Angeles Times: “We are seeing an increase in larger race harassment cases.” She also said, “There’s a more blatant display of hatred . . . manifesting in the employment context.”

Since 2012, the EEOC has won settlements in 171 racial discrimination cases involving black employees, 59 cases involving Latino victims, twelve cases involving Asian employees, and six cases that involved white victims.

How is Workplace Racial Discrimination Expressed?

Racial discrimination at the workplace may take many forms, including but not limited to:

  1.  assigning undesirable tasks on the basis of race
  2.  discrimination in hiring, promotions, terminations, and layoffs
  3.  unequal discipline
  4.  unequally compensating employees on the basis of their race
  5.  verbal racial harassment

What California Laws Prohibit Workplace Racial Discrimination?

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers with fifteen or more employees to discriminate against an employee on the basis of that employee’s race, religion, gender, or national origin.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959 is the California statute that makes it unlawful for employers in this state to discriminate on the basis of someone’s race.

FEHA also makes unlawful any workplace discrimination based on an employee’s ethnicity, mental or physical condition or disability, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity or expression, or veteran or military status.

Employers are legally obligated to ensure their employees are not subjected to discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment. In some cases, employers who fail to protect employees from discrimination may be held liable and ordered to compensate those employees.

How Can You Stop Workplace Racial Discrimination in California?

If you’re a target of workplace racial discrimination in this state, a racial discrimination lawyer will help you file a discrimination claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

To stop the workplace racial discrimination you may be facing, that is the first step. Be aware that there are filing deadlines for workplace racial discrimination claims, so if you’re a victim of that discrimination, you will need to act quickly. You must file your claim with either:

  1.  the DFEH within one year of a discrimination incident
  2.  the EEOC within 300 days of a discrimination incident

How Do the DFEH and EEOC Handle Workplace Racial Discrimination Claims?

After an investigation of your workplace racial discrimination claim, the DFEH or EEOC may ask you and your employer to agree to take part in mediation. However, your claim may be rejected if you have missed the filing deadline or if the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction.

If your workplace racial discrimination claim is resolved through mediation and you are pleased with the settlement, you will not need to take further action. Should your claim be rejected or if no settlement can be reached through mediation, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.

You can’t file a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit without taking these first steps. Both federal and state law require you to “exhaust” the “administrative” remedies before a federal or state court will hear a workplace racial discrimination case.

The best strategy for dealing with racial discrimination at your place of work is to have the advice and guidance of a San Francisco racial discrimination attorney from the very beginning of your efforts to stop the discrimination.

How is a California Workplace Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Handled?

If the EEOC dismisses your discrimination claim and sends you a “Notice of Right to Sue,” you have ninety days to file a lawsuit in federal court. If your claim is dismissed by the DFEH, you have one year to bring a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit in the California courts.

California protects employment rights more extensively than most other states, and California law generally protects employment rights more comprehensively than federal law, so it may be better to take your claim to a state court. Your lawyer will discuss all of your options with you.

If you file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer and the lawsuit prevails, you may recover lost wages, damages for emotional pain and suffering, and in the most egregious cases, punitive damages meant to deter the employer from practicing discrimination in the future.

What Will It Cost to Take Legal Action?

If your employer is discriminating against you because of your race, discuss the details with a San Francisco employment rights lawyer. An employment rights lawyer will review your concerns to determine if you have sufficient grounds for taking legal action against the employer.

In California, employment rights lawyers represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so if you and your lawyer file a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit, you will not owe any lawyer’s fee until – and unless – you are compensated with an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict.

Employment rights attorneys also provide a free first case evaluation, without any obligation, so it costs nothing to learn how the law applies in your own case. If you are encountering racial discrimination at work, take advantage of this opportunity to receive personalized legal advice.

What Else Should You Know?

Although it persists, the State of California does not tolerate workplace racial discrimination. If you are a target of that discrimination, stand up for your rights, take the steps necessary to stop the discrimination, and the law will be on your side.

Do not let anyone bully you, intimidate you, or discriminate against you. Instead, schedule a free case evaluation promptly with a California employment rights attorney, and put the law to work for you.

What Should I Do if I am Being Discriminated Against in My Workplace?

Workplace discrimination doesn’t disappear on its own. When it isn’t reported it is left to fester and grow worse. If you have experienced discrimination in your workplace then you understand how humiliating and frustrating it can be. By speaking up about discrimination you stand up for yourself and your fellow workers, as well as any future employees the workplace may take on.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in your workplace then you should reach out to an attorney that is well versed in employment law and discrimination cases.Geonetta & Frucht, LLP has a lot of experience in fighting against workplace discrimination and are ready to help. Reach us by calling 510-250-2743.

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP