March 15, 2022
Both federal and California state laws prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace. However, California law provides more protection. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is California’s primary law prohibiting racial discrimination and harassment.
If your workplace has the following characteristics, you may be subject to the discrimination and retaliation provisions of FEHA:
- Any person regularly employing five or more persons (considering part-time employees and employees on leave)
- A person or entity acting directly or indirectly as an agent of an employer
- State and local government agencies
On the other hand, all businesses (even those with fewer than five employees) are subject to FEHA’s harassment provisions. Please note that certain non-profit religious associations and corporations are entirely exempt from FEHA.
Who is protected against racial discrimination in California?
FEHA generally protects the following people from discrimination and harassment:
- Employees (including temporary employees)
- Candidates for jobs
- Interns, apprentices, people with unpaid internships and/or time-limited programs that offer unpaid work experience
Independent contractors and volunteers are generally not covered by FEHA’s anti-discrimination provisions. But they are protected against harassment.
Be aware, however, that employers sometimes mislabel employees as “independent contractors” or unpaid interns as “volunteers.” If this happens to you, you will be protected from discrimination and harassment under FEHA.
If you have questions about racial discrimination in the workplace, you can consult an experienced California employment attorney. At For Workers, we can help you.