California Discrimination Labor Law



Speak to an Attorney at California Work Injury Law Center.

Discrimination laws in the California workplace are supposed to protect employees from unfair treatment, especially when it comes to hiring and firing. These laws also offer protection from discrimination based on race, national origin, ancestry, religion, military status, disability.

What kinds of discrimination are against state law in California?

California state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • color
  • race
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth)
  • disabilities
  • age 
  • marital status
  • sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Political affiliations
  • Military or veteran status, and
  • Height & weight

How do I know if I was discriminated against?

Some examples include:

  • If your employer only hires people of a certain race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, and/or nationality.

  • Not getting a deserved promotion due to discriminatory practices even though you are more qualified qualifies as discrimination.

  • Inappropriate humor at your expense such as gender, race, sexual orientation, or legal status.

  • Inappropriate questions during an interview such as “Do you have plans to have a baby?.
  • Being given job assignments that are considered beneath your skills and training due to your age, race, or sex.  

  • Some employees are told not to discuss their salary and compensation with their fellow co-workers. You do however have a right to do so under federal law. In fact, talking about your salary with your co-workers may help you discover whether pay discrimination is taking place. If your fellow co-worker is in the same position as you but gets paid more for essentially the same job then you may be a victim of discrimination. Especially is the co-worker is of a different race, religion or sex.

Be sure to document all instances of potential discrimination.

What Qualifies as Sick Leave

Employers are not allowed to make job decisions, including whether to fire an employee, based on certain classes of employees. In California, these classes include race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, marital status, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, political beliefs or activities, military or veteran status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or assault. 

If you were fired, prevented from receiving a promotion or not hired based of your falling into a protected class, you may have a wrongful termination case. If you win a discrimination lawsuit, your employer can be forced to pay not only your lost wages and benefits, damages for your emotional distress, and possibly punitive damages.

Is it discrimination if I wasn’t hired?

It may be. If you feel you didn’t get a job due to your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or any other type of discrimination then you may have been discriminated against. If you were asked inappropriate questions during the interview process you a have been discriminated against

Filing a complaint with HR: Do I have to take this step first?

Yes, alerting your employer within 30 days of your injury is the first step in the three-step process. It is very important that you reach out to your HR department within the 30 days (the sooner the better). 

How do I file a discrimination claim in California?

One working day after you report your injury or illness, your employer should give you a workers’ compensation claim form (known as Form DWC-1), along with information about your rights and potential eligibility for benefits, what you have to do get those benefits, and other details about the workers’ comp process. If you didn’t get the DWC-1 form from your employer, you can download it from the forms page of the California Workers’ Compensation (DWC) website.

Follow the instructions on the form for filling out the employee’s portion. Be sure to list each part of your body that was injured in detail. When finished, turn the form in to your employer in person, or send via mail Your employer should fill in the employer portion and submit the form to its insurance company, They should also provide you with a copy of the completed form. (Cal. Labor Code § 5401 (2020).

Damages for a Discrimination Lawsuit

In most cases, the employee is entitled to receive the following types of damages: back pay; front pay; lost benefits such as health, vacation, sick leave, and pension; reinstatement; reasonable accommodations; and compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded in cases involving intentional discrimination based on a person’s race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), religion, disability, or genetic information.

Compensatory damages pay victims for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the discrimination (such as costs associated with a job search or medical expenses) and compensate them for any emotional harm suffered (such as mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of enjoyment of life).

The severity and size if the employer also play a roll in the potential monetary damages that may be awarded to the aggrieved employee.

How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in California?

Yes, you absolutely can file a claim in court if you have been the victim of discrimination. At California Work Injury Law Center we will file the claim on your behalf, We are experts at getting you the best settlement possible.