Employment Law Firms Oakland

Employment Law Firms Oakland

Employment Law Firms Oakland

Federal and California anti-discrimination laws protect individuals from unfair treatment in the workplace according to race, sex, pregnancy status, age, religion, disability, marital status, and national origin. To ensure fairness in the workplace, our employment law firm in Oakland works on protecting workers’ federal and state rights against discriminatory practices.

Unlawful Discrimination in the Workplace

The potential for unlawful discriminatory practices exists in a variety of business settings. The following list shows how discriminatory practices may surface:

  • During recruitment
  • When submitting and receiving job applications
  • During hiring decisions
  • When giving pre-employment tests 
  • When conducting background checks
  • When offering salaries
  • When providing benefits, bonuses, and other employment perks
  • In the workplace environment
  • When adopting a dress code
  • When managing holiday requests
  • When making disciplinary actions
  • When offering advancement opportunities
  • During downsizing
  • During layoffs and reductions of staff
  • When ending employment 

An employee who believes they have been treated unfairly in any of the above instances should contact an employment law firm Oakland attorney to get a clearer understanding of how they may be able to fight a claim.

Protecting Workers in California

The main statute that protects persons from discrimination in California is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California. Companies employing five or more employees, whether full-time or part-time, must adhere to all FEHA laws.

Comparatively, the majority of federal statutes pertaining to this topic only concern businesses with at least 15 employees. Therefore, compared to the federal statute, California’s anti-discrimination law applies to a much larger number of entities. The FEHA anti-harassment statute is applicable to businesses with one or more employees.

Both federal and California laws cover the subsequent classifications, with California extending its protections against discrimination. The EEOC defines the following categories as protected classes.

Therefore, federal and state laws that protect people in the workplace cover the following categories:

  • Age (over 40 years old)
  • Disability (mental and physical)
  • Genetic information (the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 disallows the use of genetic data when making job decisions)
  • Ethnicity/origin (including language use limitations)
  • Pregnancy (comprising childbirth and medical issues related to pregnancy and childbirth)
  • Color
  • Race
  • Religion (religious beliefs, practices, and observances)
  • Sex (including gender identity or expression and sexual orientation)
  • Military or veteran status. 

Protection Against Retaliation

In addition, state and federal employment law protects applicants, former employees, and current employees from retaliation for filing a complaint or charge of discrimination or taking part in a discrimination lawsuit or investigation. An employee is also protected if they observe discrimination and wish to file a complaint.

California Law and Employment Practices

California’s employment laws are more extensive than federal law mandates with respect to protected classes, theories of discrimination, the avoidance of workplace violations, and employment remedies.

Relying on the advice and support of an employment discrimination lawyer is highly recommended when seeking an equitable outcome in a California employment discrimination case.

Employment Protections in California

While federal law does not apply to the following categories, California employment law either covers these classifications or defines them more broadly:

  • Ancestry
  • The belief and practice of a specific religion. (California state law offers a further level of protection for the practice of religion, including customs related to grooming and dress – areas that the EEO does not fully address)
  • Married status
  • State of health, as it pertains to cancer and genetic characteristics
  • Pregnancy (defined in California to include breastfeeding and related issues)
  • Reproductive health
  • Race-related discrimination that includes protective hairstyles and hair texture

Theories Related to Discriminatory Employment Practices

Both disparate treatment and disparate impact happen when an employer disregards the protected status of an employee. The theories behind these practices are further described below.

Disparate Treatment Discrimination

Disparate treatment discrimination happens any time an employer uses an employee’s protected status to make an adverse employment decision, such as a layoff or termination. 

For example, an employer who chooses to lay off a pregnant worker instead of a less competent employee may be guilty of this type of discrimination. 

Disparate Impact Discrimination

Disparate impact discrimination happens when an employer adopts an employment practice that seems nondiscriminatory at the offset but negatively impacts the members of a lawfully protected class. Examples of these practices include:

  • Physical agility testing (which may affect some women)
  • Minimum requirements for height (which may disproportionately impact Asians, Hispanics, or women)
  • Clean-shaven regulations (adversely affecting, in some cases, African-American men who have a skin condition that keeps them from shaving

If an employment lawyer establishes disparate impact in the courtroom, the employer must show that the requirement is indeed employment-based and consistent with the company’s business requirements.

If the employee can emphasize a less discriminatory method to support a company’s requirements, the employer may have to adopt the suggested alternative.

Contact an Employment Law Firm in Oakland

Get the legal support needed to navigate through a difficult employment issue. Contact Minnis & Smallets Employment Attorneys now.


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