Discrimination in the workplace – what you need to know


The Wex Legal Dictionary states that: 

“Employment Discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age by employers. 

Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment.”

In 2020, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) received almost 24 000 complaints. 19 492 were filed, and 5784 were accepted for investigation. 706 cases were settled.

Although the Covid19 pandemic saw fewer overall complaints lodged than usual, it is clear that discrimination in the workplace is still commonplace.

We asked the San Diego employment discrimination attorneys at HaeLaw.com to explain how discrimination in the workplace could affect you as an employee.

What Qualifies as Employment Discrimination?

If someone discriminates against you, that person treats you differently and unfavourably compared to their treatment of others.

Employment discrimination is discrimination at work based on:

  • Religion
  • Natural origin
  • Race
  • Colour
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Genetic information

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects employees against discrimination in the workplace.

The EEOC will act when the discrimination involves:

    • Unfair treatment relating to your age, sex, religion, race, colour, disability, natural origin and genetic information
  • Harassment by managers, co-workers or other employees at the workplace around employment discrimination issues
  • Improper questions about your medical or genetic information 
  • Refusal to accommodate your reasonable workplace change due to a disability or even your religious beliefs
  • Retaliation by the employer because you launched a discrimination claim or assisted another co-worker in their claim against the employer 

Examples of Discrimination in the Workplace

Perhaps you have been exposed to discrimination in the workplace?

There are four main types of discrimination.

Racial discrimination

Examples of this would include:

  • Failure to hire a qualified candidate on racial grounds
  • Assigning an undesirable task to someone for which they are overqualified
  • Making the workplace hostile for someone based on their race 
  • Overlooking someone for a promotion due to their race

Disability discrimination

Employees with disabilities are to be given fair treatment by their employers. 

Employers must, for example, provide for psychological disabilities, visual and hearing challenges, and mobility issues.

Disabled people must be given equal work opportunities, be provided with a safe work environment and must be given equal pay.

Sex/Gender discrimination

If you have been discriminated against based on your gender, sexual orientation even your identifying gender, you may have a case.

An example would be if a potential employer does not employ you because you are pregnant, or if an employer overlooks a person for promotion, or, even worse, fires someone due to their sexual orientation.

This kind of discrimination is much more common than is admitted.

Age discrimination

If you are over 40 years old, you have some protection against being discriminated against based on your age. For example, you may not be overlooked for promotion or fired or asked to retire due to your age. 

So if your cranky boss tells you that you should retire as you are now past it, you have a case.

In Summary – Talk to a Lawyer

If you believe that you may have a discrimination case go and see an experienced local lawyer in your area.