What to Know

Race Discrimination In The Workplace In California

Race Discrimination. Los Angeles, California.

If you believe you have experienced racial discrimination at work, call 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

There is no charge for consultations.

The Sempers Law Firm can help resolve racial discrimination cases in Los Angeles and throughout the rest of California.

What is race discrimination?

Often race discrimination is referred to as either racial discrimination, color discrimination, ethnic discrimination, or race prejudice.

Race discrimination at work

Race discrimination in the workplace occurs when an applicant or employee is intentionally treated unfairly because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race - skin color, hair texture, or facial features. It can also occur when a company policy that looks neutral ends up having a negative effect on workers of a particular race. The basis for race discrimination often extends to an employee or applicant’s spouse. Meaning, a person can be discriminated against based on the race of their partner or spouse.

The law prohibits race discrimination in every aspect of employment, includes hiring, firing, pay, duties and responsibilities, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of that person’s employment. Not only is it illegal to base employment terms and conditions on race, but it is also against the law harassing a person because of their color or race.

Examples of race discrimination in California

Race discrimination includes:

  • Paying less to employees of a particular race who otherwise have similar qualifications and abilities,
  • Routinely hiring employees of a particular race into positions with less opportunity for advancement,
  • Routinely failing to promote members of a particular race,
  • Allowing coworkers to harass members of a specific race,
  • Subjecting members of a particular race more often and severely to discipline and other practices which prevent career advancement,
  • Allowing discriminatory practices that result in lower earnings or a work environment that causes emotional anguish, distress, or humiliation.

This is not an exhaustive list.

What to do if you have experienced race discrimination?

In California, like in many other states, race discrimination in the workplace is against the law. If you have experienced any form of race discrimination from an employer or colleague, then you can file a lawsuit against your employer for allegations of race discrimination. Further, you can also file harassment claims along with the discrimination claim. Many people fear filing a lawsuit or may not think they have enough for a suit. Race discrimination and race harassment in the workplace can be seen through various forms and can include:

  • Being called derogatory names
  • Company rules that discriminate against a certain race
  • Denial of benefits
  • Denied a job opportunity
  • Layoffs
  • Overlooked for a promotion or training
  • Racial jokes or banter
  • Racial mistreatment
  • Termination
  • Underpayment

Unfortunately, any number of behaviors and actions can result in race discrimination. If you have experienced any form of race discrimination, your first step can be to file a complaint with your company. Oftentimes, companies have a zero-tolerance rule and may take action against the wrongdoers if they file an internal claim. This is not always suitable for all situations. For example, if the person you want to file the complaint about is the person you have to file the complaint with. Sometimes, filing a complaint with the court system alleging discrimination based on race discrimination laws is the best course of action.

Race discrimination laws

There are federal laws that prohibit racial discrimination, and most states have also enacted their own laws to combat race and color discrimination in the workplace. In California, the laws protecting employees from race and color discrimination and harassment include the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Both federal and state laws make race discrimination illegal.

Race discrimination: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

As a general overview, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees and applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The act covers all employment decisions, including but not limited to termination, hiring, benefits, recruitment, and terms and conditions of employment. The act does not allow any different treatment or impact, which results in discrimination (in any way) by an employer. Generally, Title VII applies to businesses with 15 or more employees.

Race discrimination: FEHA

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) applies to public and private employers, labor organizations, apprentice training programs, and employment agencies. The FEHA makes it illegal for employers of 5 or more employees to discriminate against applicants and employees because of their race or color and other protected characteristics. Additionally, the act protects individuals from employer retaliation for asserting their rights under the law. Furthermore, the FEHA also prohibits harassment based on race or color against an applicant, employee, unpaid intern, volunteer, or contractor.

Filing a race discrimination lawsuit

If you have been a victim of race discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to file a lawsuit against or employer. There are various steps in filing a lawsuit against an employer for color or race discrimination, and before you even begin the lawsuit, if you are filing claims under FEHA, you will have to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you are filing Title VII. This is part of administrative remedies that employees and applicants must go through before filing a lawsuit with the court. However, if you want to skip this process, you can file a request for the immediate right to sue - this will skip the administrative process. Filing a direct suit and skipping the DFEH investigation is only advisable if you have already hired an attorney.

Race discrimination cases: Federal court or State court?

You can choose to file your claim under state or federal law in either the federal or state court system. An attorney can help you decide which scenario is best for your case. Once you file your lawsuit with the court, the complaint will be served on the defendant (employer and anyone else named). This will begin the litigation process and give the defendant an opportunity to file an answer to the complaint. Next, it will be up to you and your attorney on how you would like to proceed, whether it is through settlement negotiations, filing pleadings with the court, or seeking a trial.

How does an employment discrimination lawyer get paid?

We take all discrimination cases on a contingency basis, so there is no fee if there is no recovery. Further, we advance the costs of the case, which are only reimbursed upon successfully recovering for you.

For more information

To discuss your case, call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with a lawyer for race discrimination.

Your consultation will be confidential, informative, and free.

We represent clients in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, and other California cities.

Last updated on September 17, 2021.

Additional Resources

• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers race discrimination

• California Fair Employment and Housing Act explains race discrimination laws in California