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Racial/Gender Discrimination and Harassment

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Though it is hard for many to imagine in this day and age that racial or gender discrimination occur in the workplace, they do but in less obvious ways. 

In addition to the hallmark federal civil rights legislation of the 1960s and 1970s, California’s own Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits racial and gender discrimination or harassment against individuals in the workplace.

Racial or Gender Discrimination

If an employer makes outright statements to the effect that they are taking action against an employee because of their race or gender, it gives rise to a relatively straightforward discrimination case.  However, those types of cases are rare.  In many of these cases, employers seek to manufacture a legitimate excuse for terminating, demoting or failing to hire an employee who they disapprove of because of their race or gender.  The burden then falls upon the employee to find indirect evidence of racial or gender discrimination.  This can come in the form of testimony by other employees who were victims of similar discrimination, documents showing a pattern of prior complaints of discrimination, or other sources which reveal the employer’s true motivation. 

Harassment

It is common knowledge that harassment in the workplace of either a racial or sexual nature is illegal.  Name calling, unwanted sexual advances, groping, and inappropriate conversation can all add up to the creation of a “hostile work environment.”  Victims of such behavior begin to loathe going to work and suffer from stress and anxiety.  This hinders their ability to earn a living and the negative side effects often spill over into their personal lives. 

If a substantial amount of such inappropriate behavior is committed by a supervisor or is committed by a co-worker with a supervisor’s knowledge, the victim may have a claim for sexual or racial harassment against their employer. 

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