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Call | 833-201-0213

Discrimination at Work

Workplace Discrimination Attorneys

A man uses his hand to separate five white chess pawns from one red pawn on a table to show discrimination in the workplace.

If you’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace, Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC can help. Shimoda has experienced attorneys who understand California and federal discrimination employment laws. Employees have a right to compensation if their employers commit discrimination in the workplace.

People Protected Against Workplace Discrimination

Employees are guaranteed the right to a workplace free from discrimination by several federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1978, to name a few.

Under these laws, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants or employees based on their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Beliefs
  • Military or Veteran Status
  • Age
  • Mental or Physical Disability

You are also guaranteed protection from retaliation discrimination for reporting other workplace violations, such as wage theft or sexual harassment.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act extend protections to include a more comprehensive range of people. Additional protected classes under the Fair Employment and Housing Act include:

  • Ancestry
  • Medical Condition
  • Genetic Information
  • Marital Status
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Gender Expression
  • Sexual Orientation

When these terms apply to employees or job applicants, they are considered members of a protected class and are safeguarded from discrimination and harassment by state and federal laws.

Discrimination vs. Harassment

What’s the difference between discrimination and harassment? Harassment is a form of discrimination.

Similar to discrimination, there are different types of harassment, including unwelcome behavior by a coworker, manager, client, etc., in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), nationality, age, disability, or genetic information.

Although federal and state laws don’t prohibit teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in retaliation to an employee.

If the harassment is based on an employee’s protected class status, they can take legal action on the state or federal level by filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Our legal experts at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC will guide you through all your available options.

The Most Common Forms Of Discrimination In The Workplace

1. Discrimination Based on Race/Color

Race and color discrimination accounts for more than a third of claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. People of color experience racially-based discrimination during hiring, promotion consideration, unfair scrutiny, and wrongful termination.

An employment practice must apply to everyone, regardless of race or color, cannot have a negative impact on the employment of people of a particular race or color, and must be job-related and necessary to the operation of the business.

It is unlawful to harass a person because of their race or color, such as racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks, and the display of racially offensive symbols.

2. Disability Discrimination

The EEOC also processes a high number of disability discrimination claims for failure to accommodate a disability, a right granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Discrimination toward disabled workers can take the form of assumptions about their ability to perform job duties, outright hostility, and unfair practices.

An example of unfair practices targeted toward disabled workers is the “no-fault” attendance policy. The “no fault” attendance policy assigns points for an unexcused absence regardless of the cause and results in employee termination after a worker accrues a predetermined number of points.

3. Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination is discrimination against expecting or new mothers. Some employers may refuse to hire women if they plan on becoming pregnant or if they are already pregnant.

Other employers may make excuses to discipline or terminate employees when they learn they are pregnant. Employers may also “eliminate” positions while pregnant employees are on leave or deny them leave altogether.

It is illegal for employers to deny leave or retaliate against women for exercising their right to maternity leave.

Employers in California must provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations, especially when a note from a doctor states that the accommodation is medically necessary.

State and federal law prohibit retaliation in response to a workplace accommodation request.

4. Gender Discrimination

Gender discrimination occurs when employees are treated differently because of their gender. It is most commonly either disparate treatment based on sex or sexual harassment.

The former can appear as discriminatory hiring or firing practices, pay disparities, or the restriction of benefits or promotions because of an employee’s sex.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that involves any unsolicited behavior. It can either be verbal or physical, of a sexual nature that interferes with work performance, affects a person’s employment, or creates a hostile work environment, such as inappropriate sexual jokes, sexual slurs, and non-consensual touching.

5. Age Discrimination

Age discrimination applies to employees age 40 or older. It is one of the fastest-growing forms of discrimination as Baby Boomer and Generation X workers live longer and stay in the workforce for a greater period than previous generations.

Age discrimination has common patterns with high barriers to entry for older job applicants, harassment from younger managers, and pressure in the workplace to resign or retire.

6. Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Discrimination

When an employer treats an employee or job applicant less favorably because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they violate anti-discrimination laws.

In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are now federally recognized protected classes, and employees or job applicants are guaranteed a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

7. Religious Discrimination

Under state and federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against employees or job applicants for their religious beliefs.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace or job segregation based on religion, including religious garb and grooming practices, such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of perceived customer preference.

The law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operation of the employer’s business.

Standard religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and workplace policies or practices modifications.

8. Parental Status Discrimination

Discrimination based on parental status is illegal. Employers cannot ask employees or job applicants about their parental status.

Eliminating this interview question protects job seekers from the stigma of prioritizing their child’s well-being over their job duties. Or that men without children are more likely to work harder.

Employers may be OK with female employees taking maternity leave but penalize male employees for taking advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act for paternity leave.

According to the law, these prejudices are based on gender assumptions, and whether you have children or not has no bearing on your ability to perform your work duties.

If you’re unsure if your situation falls into a discrimination category, contact the employment law experts at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC

Should I File A Complaint With Human Resources First?

Attempting to resolve a situation with your human resources department should be the first step.

By filing a complaint with human resources, you begin a paper trail that you can use to help your discrimination case, should the matter be overlooked.

Human resources personnel, by law, must investigate discrimination complaints in the workplace.

To ensure you have the best supporting documentation for your case, you should:

  • Read your company’s policy thoroughly
  • Follow the steps outlined in your employee handbook
  • Gather evidence, including detailed notes about the incident or incidents, any witnesses, any other tangible evidence such as written communication (but make sure not to take anything confidential or secret)
  • Write a formal complaint
  • Document instances in which you believe discrimination occurred


I highly recommend Shimoda Law Corp! Justin Rodriquez, and the whole office staff are wonderful! I walked in with an upsetting situation needing advice and was greeted with kindness and empathy.

Mr. Rodriguez and staff were always professional, patient, explained my case in easy-to-understand terms, was realistic, honest, and kept in touch with me regarding my case from start to finish.

Thank you, Shimoda Law Firm! You are in great hands if you choose Shimoda Law Corp!

– Jen Gomes

Explore Your Options, And Do What Is Best For You

Not every client wants to file a lawsuit against their employer. You may wish to end the discriminatory behavior at work and return to your job in peace. We understand this.

When you speak with the Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC, we will help you understand all your available options. Then, we will provide advice to help you achieve the outcome that you desire. Whether this involves private negotiations with your employer or proceeding to the courtroom, we will help you take the path with which you feel most comfortable.

How To Recognize Discrimination In The Workplace?

Discrimination can be subtle, and it may be challenging to recognize unfair treatment at your place of work if it’s not blatant.

Unlawful discrimination commonly manifests itself in the unfair allocation of duties, harassment, and promotion determinations.

Unfair Allocation of Duties

If management consistently assigns tasks to you or your coworkers who share similar skin color or religious beliefs or that prestigious projects are repeatedly reserved for the same employees despite your equitable skill level, this may be a sign of discriminatory behavior.

Another example of this is discrimination based on gender. More clerical tasks may be assigned to female employees with the same job description as their male counterparts.

But the discriminatory behavior can be even more subtle than this. Your employer may stereotype a particular group and create the impression in your organization that they are non-performers.

Excluding people with disabilities from projects and workplace duties is also an example of discriminatory practices.

Promotion Pass-Over

If you are a member of a protected class and are passed over for promotions when you are equally or more qualified than the promoted person, this may be another sign of illegal discrimination that could be costing you lost wages and career opportunities.

Blatantly denying employees promotions based on race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation is unlawful.

Unfair Treatment

Preferential treatment can be the most complex form of workplace discrimination to identify. You may not know your coworker’s circumstances well enough to understand why they are being let off with just a warning or received special dispensation.

But if you and your coworker commit the same violation, such as arriving late over multiple days, and you, a member of a protected class, are treated differently from your coworker when disciplined, then it may be a form of discrimination.

Schedule A Consultation About Discrimination

We can help you stand up for your rights if you face discrimination. Contact our firm for a complimentary phone consultation with an employment law attorney. To reach us, call 833-201-0213 or send an email. We will promptly return your email with a phone call.