Discrimination

California Age Discrimination

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against any employee because that employee is over forty (40) years old. Because there is rarely “smoking gun” evidence of age discrimination, circumstantial evidence will usually suffice. An inference of discrimination is usually raised by showing that the employee,

  • Belongs to a protected class (i.e., is over forty (40))
  • Was subjected to an adverse employment action (like termination, demotion, suspension)
  • Similarly situated employees others outside the protected class were treated differently and more favorably

In addition to raising an inference of discrimination in the manner set forth above, an employee may do so via statistical evidence, comparative evidence, or direct evidence. Direct evidence, such as discriminatory comments made by the decision maker, is often the most persuasive. However, in larger companies, it may be possible to use statistical analysis to demonstrate that the employer systematically discriminates against a particular race in hiring, promotions and terminations. Such evidence would raise an inference that the action taken against a particular employee of that race was also infected by racial animus or prejudice. Comparative evidence also raises an inference of discrimination by showing that different rules and standards were applied for persons of different races.

Because discrimination cases usually turn on specific facts, and there is usually a 1-year time limit for filing, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a potentially discriminatory action has been taken.

California Disability Discrimination

Under the ADA, as well as its California counterpart, it is unlawful for any employer to harass or discriminate against any qualified employee because of that employee’s disability or physical condition. However, under recent amendments to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the definition of what constitutes a “disability” is far less restrictive under California law than under federal law.

This means that many employees with less restrictive, less severe disabilities will be covered under California law, but not federal law. As a practical matter, California law has always been more advantageous than the federal ADA because of the availability of unlimited general and punitive damages. Now, however, there are substantive differences between the two laws that will cause certain cases filed under the ADA to be thrown out, while the same case would result in a large verdict for the employee under California law.

The reason for this is that, under the ADA, workers with disabilities that do not substantially interfere with one or more major life activities are not protected, while in California, the limitation on major life activities need not be substantial. Further, correctable disabilities, like poor eyesight or high blood pressure will not be protected under federal law unless they substantially limit the individual even in their corrected state. In California, however, corrective measures are irrelevant to the determination of whether an employee is “disabled” unless the corrective measure itself is limiting. This means that, in California, an employee with a corrected disability, like poor eyesight, would be protected from discrimination. But the very same employee would be vulnerable to harassment and discrimination under federal law.

Lastly, under California disability law, an employee may show that his/her disabling condition “limits” the major life activity of “working” simply by demonstrating that it prevents him/her from doing his/her own job without reasonable accommodation. Under federal law, an employee must show that, in addition to being prevented from doing his/her own job, an employee must show that the disability prevents him/her from performing a broad range or class of jobs.

Under both state and federal law, in addition to proving a limiting, or substantially limiting disability, an employee must also show that he/she can perform the essential functions of his/her job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Once an employee demonstrates that he/she is “disabled”, the employer’s duty to accommodate that disability is fairly rigorous. The employer’s duty to reasonably accommodate disabled workers may require job-restructuring, transfer to an open position with less demanding duties, flexible work schedule, or permitting the employee to take a leave of absence. Whether an accommodation would be “reasonable” depends on many factors, including the size and resources of the company. A good rule of thumb, however, is that the company will be required to do whatever it can do to accommodate a disabled worker unless the cost of doing so would be prohibitive.

California Race Discrimination

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against any employee because of that employee’s race. Because there is rarely “smoking gun” evidence of racial discrimination, circumstantial evidence will usually suffice. An inference of discrimination is usually raised by showing that the employee,

  • Belongs to a protected class
  • Was subjected to an adverse employment action (like termination, demotion, suspension)
  • Similarly situated employees others outside the protected class were treated differently and more favorably

In addition to raising an inference of discrimination in the manner set forth above, an employee may do so via statistical evidence, comparative evidence, or direct evidence. Direct evidence, such as discriminatory comments made by the decision maker, is often the most persuasive. However, in larger companies, it may be possible to use statistical analysis to demonstrate that the employer systematically discriminates against a particular race in hiring, promotions and terminations. Such evidence would raise an inference that the action taken against a particular employee of that race was also infected by racial animus or prejudice. Comparative evidence also raises an inference of discrimination by showing that different rules and standards were applied for persons of different races.

It is important to know what to do to protect the legal rights of yourself and your loved ones. Selecting the right Sacramento employment lawyer is an important decision. You should choose someone who is experienced, aggressive and dedicated to working to get fair compensation. Over the past we have successfully handled thousands of Sacramento employment cases. That is why you should contact the Sacramento Employment Lawyers Clancey, Doyle & O’Donnell.