Discrimination |
December 06, 2016

Employment Laws Guiding San Francisco’s Employment Discrimination Attorneys

Employment discrimination lawyers protecting the rights of employees in San Francisco and the bay area

Employment discrimination includes treating an employee differently from other employees because of the employee’s membership in a class of people who are protected by law. Discrimination also includes making stereotyped assumptions about a person’s abilities because of membership in a protected class and basing adverse employment decisions on those assumptions. The employment discrimination attorneys at San Francisco’s Minnis & Smallets rely on a number of federal and California laws to help employees and job applicants who have the victims of discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

employment discrimination lawyersOne of the oldest and most important laws prohibiting discrimination is the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of that Act makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of certain protected characteristics.

The Act applies to nearly every employer that has 15 or more employees. It applies to private and public employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Title VII has been amended several times since it was enacted. In its current form, it protects against discrimination against members of these protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin or ancestry
  • Sex
  • Religion

Title VII prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, demotions, work assignments, and all other terms and conditions of employment. It also prohibits harassment based on the employee’s membership in a protected class.

Finally, Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who complain about prohibited discrimination or who file a legal claim alleging a Title VII violation. The law also protects employees who help a discrimination victim make a complaint, who cooperate with the investigation of a complaint, or who testify in a legal proceeding concerning a claim of discrimination.

Employment discrimination and retaliation victims are entitled to seek legal advice from an employment discrimination attorney. Retaliating against an employee because the employer asked a San Francisco employment lawyer for advice about discrimination is a form of unlawful retaliation.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to make clear that sex discrimination includes discrimination because of pregnancy. The law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of childbirth or a related medical condition.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in hiring, job assignments, compensation, termination, and other terms and conditions of employment. In simple terms, the law defines a “disability” as a condition that substantially limits a major life activity, such as seeing, breathing, or walking. Physical as well as mental disabilities are covered.

Employees who are perceived as having a disability are also protected by the ADA. Our San Francisco employment lawyers can help employees and job applicants understand whether they are protected the ADA.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the ADA requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations that will allow them to enjoy the same employment opportunities as employees who are not disabled. An accommodation is generally regarded as reasonable if it can be provided without undue hardship to the employer.

The ADA governs the conduct of private employers that have 15 or more employees, as well as state and local governments. The ADA contains protections against retaliation that are similar to those provided by Title VII.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or to discriminate with regard to compensation or other terms and conditions of employment because of the individual’s age. The protection applies to individuals who have reached the age of 40.

The ADEA allows employers to take age into an account when making employment decisions if age is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business. A San Francisco employment discrimination lawyer can help employees understand whether an employer violated their rights under the ADEA by claiming that a termination, refusal to hire, or other adverse action was based on a bona fide occupational qualification.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) incorporates most of the protections of the federal laws described above. It also adds protected classes that are not expressly covered by Title VII. The additional classes of employees covered by the FEHA are:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Marital status
  • Military and veteran status

The FEHA generally applies to California employers that have 5 or more employees, regardless of where the employees are located. The FEHA’s protection against workplace harassment, however, applies to all California employers.

The FEHA applies to employees who work in the State of California. It may also apply to employees working outside of California for California employers, if the wrongful conduct occurred in California or was ratified by decision-makers or participants located in California. A San Francisco employment law attorney at Minnis & Smallets can analyze the facts and advise employees whether they are covered by California law.

How to Get Help

All of the laws described above provide important protections to employees. If you believe employment discrimination has happened to you, the employment lawyers at San Francisco’s Minnis & Smallets can advise you on available remedies. To arrange a consultation, call us at 1-415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.