5 common employment discrimination claims in California

Knowing the most common types of discrimination claims can help employers in California from getting accused of them.

There are laws in California and at the federal level that prohibit a business from engaging in discriminatory practices. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, a business cannot harass or discriminate against someone based on any of the following:

  • Race, color, religious creed and national origin
  • Sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression
  • Age as it pertains to those 40 and older
  • Sexual orientation
  • Medical conditions, disability and military or veteran status
  • Sex, pregnancy, breastfeeding and childbirth

These claims are serious and can lead to adverse repercussions for businesses. To best protect a company, it is imperative to recognize some of the most common claims filed.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collects data on the charges brought against a company. One claim can allege several different kinds of discrimination. The EEOC found that for fiscal year 2015, the following were the most commonly cited claims:

1. Race

In 2015, 34.7 percent of claims cited racial discrimination. This can happen when either an employee or an applicant for a job is treated unfairly due to his or her race. This could also occur if someone is treated a certain way during their employment due to characteristics that are often associated with a race, such as skin color.

The EEOC points out that someone may also cite racial discrimination if he or she believes the unfair treatment occurred because he or she is married or associated with a person of a certain race.

2. Sex

Sex-based discrimination often refers to someone who believes he or she was treated poorly due to his or her sex. This also covers gender identity and transgender status. In fiscal year 2015, the EEOC states that 29.5 percent of claims cited sex discrimination.

3. Retaliation

More claims cited retaliation than any other category, as 44.5 percent of the charges brought against companies in 2015 involved this topic. This can happen when someone files a discrimination complaint with the company and then believes that he or she is mistreated because of it. It can also occur if the person has simply taken part in a discrimination proceeding.

Under state and federal law, it is illegal to take any kind of retaliatory action against an employee or applicant based on a discrimination claim he or she may have been part of. This includes pay, job assignments, hiring, firing and fringe benefits.

4. Age

It is illegal to treat someone unfavorably due to his or her age. In 2015, 22.5 percent of claims reported age discrimination. Neither California nor federal laws protect employees younger than 40 in this area.

5. Disability

Approximately 30.2 percent of claims in 2015 involved disability discrimination. The law protects people covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act from facing unfair treatment due to a physical or mental disability. It should be noted that the federal law states that having a history of disability - including having cancer that is now under control - is considered protected.

Knowing these claims is essential to prevent these acts from occurring in the workplace. Anyone who has questions about these issues should consult with an employment law attorney in California.