August 16, 2022
Under the FEHA, it is illegal for employers to harass or discriminate against you based on race, ethnic origin, skin color, birthplace, heredity, or other historically associated traits, such as hair texture and hairstyles. All of these are “protected characteristics” by law.
Which Workers Are Protected Against Racial Discrimination in California?
FEHA generally protects the following people from discrimination and harassment:
- Employees (including temporary employees)
- Job seekers
- Unpaid apprentices and interns and others in limited duration programs that provide unpaid work experience
Independent and voluntary contractors are generally not covered by FEHA’s nondiscrimination provisions. But they are protected from harassment.
However, be aware 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 the FEHA.
What are signs of racial discrimination that it is useful to recognize?
The FEHA discrimination provisions apply to all aspects of employment and hiring. That means that illegal racial profiling can take many forms. Examples may include the following actions if they are taken based on your race or other protected trait:
- Refusing to hire you
- Refusing to select you for a training program
- Refusing to promote you
- Demoting you
- Firing you
- Reducing your salary
- Denying equal pay when compared to employees of equal ability
- Denying benefits
- Assigning different roles
- Taking adverse actions regarding the terms, conditions, or privileges of your employment.
It is not always obvious when an action is based on race or another protected characteristic. But generally, you will have to show direct evidence of discrimination, such as reference to your race or evidence that similarly situated employees who do not share your race or other protected characteristic were treated more favorably or differently.