Hostile Work Environment – Race Discrimination Claims in LA

The term “race” can encompass a broad range of cultural, ethnic, geographical, historical, physical, linguistic, social affiliations and religious characteristics/similarities that define a specific group of people. In Los Angeles, discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s race is a serious violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and also federal law. Both federal and California state law provide specific prohibitions against harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace because of an employee’s race, nation of origin, sex, gender, religion, and ancestry. Specifically, employers are prohibited from harassing both job applicants and employees, as well as any person providing services pursuant to a contract who is not an agent or supervisor. Furthermore, it is unlawful for an employer to know that other employees, agents and supervisors are conducting racial discrimination in the workplace when that employer does not take reasonable actions and/or steps to prevent further racial harassment.

Hostile work environment claims are a subset of the general prohibition against discrimination in the workplace. Employers whose employees can bring hostile work environment claims include:

  • All employers who regularly employ one or more persons;
  • Those who regularly receive the services of one or more persons that provide services pursuant to a contract; or
  • Anyone who acts as an agent either directly or indirectly for an employer, or any civil/political subdivision of the state, cities or the state.

In LA, determining whether a person is an employer within the context of a hostile work environment claim is easy if that person has one or more employees, or acts as an agent for another. However, the determination of who is a person that regularly receives services provided pursuant to a contract is more difficult and the following three elements must be shown regarding the service provider:

  • The person has the right to determine the manner of performance, and the right to control the performance of the contract for services rendered;
  • The person has control over the place and time that the work is performed, as well as control over the type of supplies used, and that person performs work that requires a specific skill typically not used in the ordinary course of the employer’s work; and
  • The person typically engages in work for an independently established business.

Required Elements of a Race Discrimination Hostile Work Environment Claim

There are five elements that an employee must show in order to prove that they were subject to hostile work environment racial harassment. These five elements require a showing that:

  • The employee is part of one of the protected groups covered under the FEHA ie. discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, age, gender or a different protected characteristic;
  • The employee experienced unwelcome racial harassment in the workplace;
  • The harassment was based on the employee’s perceived or actual membership/affiliation with a racial group;
  • The racial harassment was sufficiently pervasive that it created an abusive work environment and otherwise altered the conditions of employment; and
  • The employer is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior ie. is responsible for the actions of all employees when such actions are committed within the normal course of employment.

Los Angeles Employment Law Attorneys: Providing Employment Law Assistance

Racial discrimination in the workplace is serious, illegal, and will not be tolerated by the state of California. Thus, if you are an employer who has been accused of creating or presiding over a hostile work environment, or if you have experienced racial harassment in the workplace, you should contact us at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles, California. We can provide you with the exceptional legal assistance you require to resolve your hostile work environment suit.