On behalf of Thaler Law on Monday, September 9, 2019.

In America today, common sense tells you that the cost for any form of workplace discrimination is likely to be high, both personally and professionally. There’s probably going to be shaming on social media and possibly a lawsuit. The chance of a lawsuit increases exponentially with the size of the business.

Here in California, there are several laws at play in a discrimination suit. If your business is currently at risk in terms of a discrimination suit, consider discussing your options with an experienced lawyer. But first, it’s important to understand the facts.

What individuals are protected?

Individuals cannot be discriminated against based on the following characteristics: race, ancestry, religion, age, disability (mental or physical), sex and gender (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and other related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, and military or veteran status.

The definition of illegal discrimination is being treated differently than someone else based on one of these characteristics. Because of the generality of this definition, use caution in all potential harassment cases.

What are the laws in California?

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces the following anti-discrimination laws to protect individuals with the characteristics listed above:

  • The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) not only makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against someone with a protected characteristic during the hiring, working, or firing stage but also prohibits retaliation when an individual asserts their rights at any time during that process. This includes contractors and any other type of employee at any business.
  • The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) requires that employers with a large number of employees (50 or more) provide job-protected leave for employees with temporary and specific family needs, such as childbirth, adoption, or placing a child in foster care.
  • The New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) compels employers with more than 20 employees to provide leave with job security for employees under the same circumstances as CFRA.

What are the ramifications for employers?

If a discrimination case goes to court and the case doesn’t go your way, you could be looking at a large pay out—not to mention all the bad publicity this will cause. Possible consequences for your business include:

  • reimbursing any earnings lost
  • rehiring the individual
  • promoting the individual
  • paying expenses the individual accrued as a result of the situation
  • providing additional training
  • compensating for emotional distress
  • paying punitive damages
  • covering attorney’s fees and costs

If you find yourself at risk of a discrimination suit, consider contacting a lawyer earlier rather than later. Your reputation and your funding are at stake.