If you are an employee who has experienced discrimination in the workplace, you know all too well how devastating such conduct can be. Generally, discrimination is the mistreatment of an individual because of a bias based on gender, age, disability, national origin, religion or sexual orientation. Discrimination can take many forms and can negatively affect an employee’s initial hiring prospects, conditions of employment, compensation, prospects for promotion, and can even result in an employee’s termination.
California law prohibits employment discrimination and provides significant penalties for employees who engage in such activity. Government Code section 12940(a), part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (known as “FEHA”) makes it an “unlawful employment practice” for an employer to refuse to hire or to fire a person, or to discriminate against a person “in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment,” because of age, race, religion, skin color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or military or veteran status.
Discrimination based on the perception that a person has one of these characteristics is also unlawful; in other words, if your employer thinks you have a disability and fires you because of that belief that action is illegal even if you don’t have a disability. (Government Code §12926(o).) These FEHA discrimination provisions apply to employers regularly employing five or more workers. (Government Code §12926(d).)
If an employer discriminates against an employee in violation of FEHA, the employee can recover damages from the employer for emotional distress, punitive damages and damages for lost wages and benefits. (Meninga v. Raley’s, Inc. (1989) 216 CA3d 79, 90 [tort damages recoverable under FEHA for discrimination and harassment based on sex even if worker had recovered workers’ compensation for cumulative stress].) The relief provided by FEHA also includes reasonable attorney fees and costs, including expert witness fees. (Government Code § 12965(b); Flannery v. Prentice (2001) 26 C4th 572.)
A one-year statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit for retaliation under FEHA begins to run once the Department of Fair Employment and Housing issues a “right to sue” letter. (Acuna v San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. (2013) 217 CA4th 1402, 1413, 41 CWCR 201.)
Lebe Law helps employees determine if they have a viable discrimination claim against their employer and, if so, aggressively seeks redress for the discrimination.