December 8, 2021
Most California employees know that racial discrimination in the workplace is illegal. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it from happening day to day. Although California has some of the most thorough non-discrimination laws in the country, thousands of racial discrimination complaints are filed each year.
Racial discrimination can take many forms, and not all are necessarily obvious. Furthermore, discrimination does not have to be intentional to be illegal.
If you believe you have experienced racial discrimination in the workplace, here is what you need to know about your rights.
What laws protect against racial discrimination in California?
Both federal (nationwide) and California state laws prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace. But California state law provides much more protection. The Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) is California’s primary law prohibiting racial discrimination and harassment.
Under FEHA, it is illegal for employers to harass or discriminate against you because of your race, skin color, ethnicity, origin, heritage, or other traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles. All of these are called “protected features” by law.
This harassment or discrimination is illegal whether it is based on:
- Your actual protected features
- The perception that someone has of some protected characteristic
- If you have any association with another person with a protected characteristic.
Also, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining of harassment or discrimination.
How to identify racial discrimination?
The FEHA discrimination provisions apply to all aspects of employment and recruitment. That means that discrimination can take many forms. Examples may include the following actions if taken based on your race or other protected trait:
- If the employer refuses to hire you
- If they refuse to select you for training
- If they refuse to promote you
- If they degrade you
- If they fire you
- If they reduce your salary
- If they pay you less than your peers
- If they deny you benefits
- If they force you to quit
If you have questions about racial discrimination in the workplace, we recommend that you consult an experienced California employment attorney.