Workplaces can be unpleasant for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are illegal. While there is a growing demand for legal protections against some of the discontents of the workplace, such as bosses that expect you to respond to work emails around the clock and a labor market where gigs outnumber employment contracts that include paid leave and health insurance benefits, 1099 jobs and demanding work schedules are not against the law. Often, though, the thing that makes the work environment truly unbearable is your employer’s behavior not only toward your work but toward you. One need look no farther than social media to see that there are plenty of situations in which it is one person’s word against another’s about whether someone’s behavior is due to the race or gender of the target of that behavior, or if it is just a case of a jerk acting like a jerk. Fortunately, the law is more systematic and more specific about what constitutes employment discrimination, as well as about the appropriate responses to it. If your employer has treated you unfairly because of a legally protected characteristic or legally protected action, contact the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
What is Employment Discrimination in Irvine?
Employment discrimination is when an employer, work supervisor, or co-worker treats an employee unfairly because of a legally protected characteristic or when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee because of a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics are characteristics of an employee’s body or of a group to which the employee belongs. Examples of protected characteristics include race, national origin, skin color, hair texture, citizenship status, religion, sex, gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, family status, pregnancy, age, and disability. Adverse actions include termination of employment, refusal to hire, denial of promotions and raises, unfairly negative performance reviews, harassment and hostile work environment, and doing any of the above actions in retaliation for an employee’s exercise of their rights. Proving to the court that an employer took an adverse action against you is usually easy; proving that the employer’s main motivation for doing it is your race, religion, or other protected characteristic often takes more work, even though it may be obvious to you and to your coworkers who witnessed it. The Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you present your case convincingly.
Legal Protections Against Discrimination in the Workplace
Employees are entitled to a workplace that is free from discrimination; federal and state laws guarantee these protections. These are some of the laws that may apply to your employment discrimination case:
- Civil Rights Act of 1964, especially Title VII, which deals with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
- California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
- Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967
- New Parent Leave Act
These laws guarantee you the right to complain about discrimination against you or a coworker and to request reasonable accommodations for a disability or an unpaid leave of absence for medical or family caregiving reasons. In many cases, the first step is to contact the EEOC so that they can conduct an investigation into whether to file a lawsuit against your employer. The Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you in your dealings with the EEOC and at later stages of your employment discrimination case.
Discrimination, Non-Disclosure Agreements, and the Silenced No More Act
When employers fire you from your job, they might act like they are being nice to you and trying to help you, but in many cases, they are just trying to protect themselves from discrimination lawsuits and to stop you from exercising your legal rights. Sometimes employers offer severance agreements to workers when the employer makes the unilateral decision to terminate the employee’s contract prematurely. These severance agreements often offer the employee some money, usually the equivalent of several months’ salary, but this money is more of a Trojan horse than a gift. By signing the severance agreement and accepting the money, you must waive your right to sue your employer for wrongful termination of employment. Employers often have ulterior motives for offering severance agreements, especially if the agreements include non-disclosure clauses forbidding the former employee to discuss the circumstances of the termination of employment. This is often an underhanded attempt to keep former employees quiet about the discrimination they experienced at work.
In 2019, California enacted a law making it illegal for employers to stipulate or enforce non-disclosure provisions about gender discrimination cases. This law left a loophole, though, because many employees who experience gender discrimination also experience discrimination based on other characteristics, such as race, age, disability, or family status. To address this loophole, the Silenced No More Act of 2021 bans non-disclosure agreements about all kinds of employment discrimination.
What to Do if You Experience Discrimination at Work in Irvine
If you think that your employer’s behavior toward you is discriminatory, you should document all the discriminatory actions before things get worse. Keep a diary of all the unfair pay discrepancies, racist or sexist comments, or any other discriminatory behavior that goes on at your workplace. If you are filing a discrimination complaint about a major adverse action, such as the denial of a promotion, then you will have a stronger case if you can show that your employer has followed a pattern of discriminatory behavior over a long period of time. The sooner you contact the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP about your discrimination case, the better.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Workplace Discrimination in Irvine
HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP represents employees whose employers have fired them or taken other adverse actions against them on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, or family status. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.