Discrimination at work is illegal and unjust, but it can sometimes be challenging to identify.
California law prohibits discrimination based on factors such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and disability. By knowing the signs and understanding what constitutes discrimination, employees can recognize and address unfair treatment in the workplace.
Types of workplace discrimination
Workplace discrimination can manifest in various ways, including hiring and firing decisions, pay and promotion opportunities and the overall work environment. One method some employers use is disparate treatment. Disparate treatment occurs when an employer treats an employee differently from others because of a protected characteristic. This could include passing an employee over for a promotion, using unfair discipline or subjecting the employee to offensive comments or jokes.
Harassment is also a form of discrimination that creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. This can include unwanted sexual advances, offensive comments or other inappropriate behavior directed at an employee because of their protected status.
How to address workplace discrimination
If you believe you are experiencing discrimination at work, consider taking the following steps:
- Document incidents: Keep detailed records of any discriminatory actions, including dates, times and names of the individuals involved. This documentation can be helpful if you decide to report the discrimination or file a complaint.
- Report the discrimination: Speak with your supervisor or human resources department about the discriminatory behavior. They have a legal obligation to address your concerns and take appropriate action to stop the discrimination.
- File a complaint: If your employer does not address the discrimination, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The DFEH is responsible for enforcing California’s anti-discrimination laws and can investigate your complaint and take legal action against the employer if necessary.
Recognizing and addressing workplace discrimination is essential for ensuring a fair and equitable work environment for all employees. By understanding the signs and knowing what steps to take, employees can help put an end to discrimination in the workplace.