Malatesta Law Fights for Employees When Employers Violate the Law

Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer

Standing up for the Rights of Employees Throughout California

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code Section 12900 et seq., makes it illegal for an employer to refuse to hire, or discriminate against, an employee because of his or her race, religion, color, national origin, disability, sex, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military/veteran status.

Discrimination occurs when an employee suffers an adverse employment action. An adverse employment action is an action that negatively affects an employee's compensation, working conditions, job responsibilities, or job status.

Examples of adverse employment actions include:

  • Job dismissal (being fired)
  • Suspension
  • Demotion
  • Transfer to another department or area
  • Promotion denial
  • Loss of job duties and/or responsibilities
  • Negative performance reviews

If an employee has been discriminated against in any of the above ways, an employee should retain capable and aggressive legal counsel. No employee should be subjected to unlawful discrimination at work or by a prospective employer due to any of the above types of discrimination. When an employer violates California law by illegally discriminating against an employee, an employer must be held accountable for its unlawful conduct. Malatesta Law fights for California employees' rights.

Damages an Employee May Recover

Damages an employee may recover for an employer's illegal discrimination include those for lost wages and for the emotional distress caused by the illegal actions. The employee may also be able to obtain punitive damages for their employer's unlawful conduct.

If there is reason to believe an employee has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, contact Los Angeles discrimination attorney Andrew Malatesta at Malatesta Law today for a free consultation. Malatesta Law fights for California employees' rights and is passionate about helping employees in need.


Contact Malatesta Law online or call today for a free discrimination case consultation.


Race Discrimination in California

Race discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action because of his or her race.

Examples of race discrimination include:

  • The only African American employee has worked at his company for ten years and has received excellent performance reviews each year of his employment. Nonetheless, he is repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified, Caucasian colleagues.
  • An Asian employee and his Asian colleague are constantly assigned to the night shift while the company's Caucasian workers are never assigned to work at night. The Asian employee makes a complaint to the company's Caucasian owner about the differential treatment between Asian employees and Caucasian employees. The company's owner tells the Asian employee "to know [his] place," that he is "lucky to have a job," and that Asians will "always be assigned to work the night shift."
  • An American Indian employee earns a lower salary and receives a smaller bonus than her Caucasian colleagues. The American Indian employee is issued written discipline and suspended for certain conduct, while her Caucasian colleagues who engaged in the same conduct, receive no discipline and are not suspended.

Religious Discrimination

In California, it is against the law for an employer to refuse to hire or discriminate against an employee because of his or her religion. An employee's religion includes all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice, including religious dress and grooming practices.

"Religion" not only includes traditional religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism but also recognizes other, lesser-known religions so long as an individual's beliefs regarding a "religion" are sincerely held ethical or moral beliefs.

An employer is required to make reasonable accommodation for an employee's religious practices unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer or its operations. In any dispute regarding this, the legal burden rests on the employer to show that a possible reasonable accommodation would constitute such a hardship.

Reasonable accommodation for an employee's religious practices may include:

  • Job restructuring
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Job reassignment
  • Modification of work practices
  • Allowing time off to avoid a conflict with an employee's religious observances

National Origin Discrimination in California

National origin discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action due to his or her national origin. National origin means the country where a person was born or the country where his or her ancestors came from.

Examples of national origin include being Mexican, El Salvadorian, Russian, Indian, Thai, Serbian, and Israeli.

Examples of national origin discrimination:

  • An employee from India is transferred to work under a new supervisor who is from Pakistan. The supervisor soon gives the employee the first write-up that he has ever received in his 10 years of employment with the company. In the write-up, the Pakistani supervisor makes derogatory comments about India. At the employee's yearly performance review, his supervisor gives him the worst performance review he has ever received. The employee's employment is terminated one month later for "poor performance."
  • A Puerto Rican nurse is the only non-Filipino nurse on the night shift with a Filipino supervisor as well. The Filipino manager permits all of the Filipino nurses to work overtime but refuses to allow the Puerto Rican nurse to do so. The Puerto Rican nurse is assigned to work two weekends each month, while every other nurse is only assigned to work one weekend each month.
  • An El Salvadorian employee reports to a Mexican supervisor. The Mexican supervisor makes numerous derogatory comments about El Salvador to the employee and makes it well known that he does not like Salvadorans. The Mexican supervisor issues the employee's written discipline but does not issue any Mexican employee's discipline for engaging in the same conduct. The employee does not receive a raise while all of the Mexican employees do.

Age Discrimination in California

Age discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action because of his or her age.

Examples of age discrimination include:

  • A 62-year-old vice president is called into a meeting with the company's president and asked about his plans for retirement. The employee responds that he has no plans to retire any time soon and wants to continue working because he loves what he does. The company's president tells the employee that this is a "young man's business" and that maybe he "should start thinking about retirement." Two months later, at the employee's annual performance review, the company's president tells the employee that his performance "is not what it used to be." The employee receives the lowest performance review in his 25 years with the company despite having reached all of his performance goals for the year. A month later, his employment is terminated.
  • An employee in his early seventies and several of his colleagues who are in their sixties are laid off as part of a "restructuring." Every employee laid off because of the "restructuring" is over 60 years of age.
  • A 55-year-old is one of the company's highest paid managers due to her experience and seniority. The company hires a new chief executive who announces that he is looking to "cut costs." Six months later, the employee and several other managers who are all in their fifties are laid off as part of a "reduction in force."

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in California

Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action because of his or her sexual orientation which includes being homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual.

Examples of sexual orientation discrimination include:

  • A homosexual engineer receives an excellent three-month performance review. Several days later, while having lunch with his colleagues, the engineer mentions that he has a boyfriend. His manager hears this and says, "You are gay? I did not know that when I hired you." The following week, the manager makes a point of avoiding him. The next week, the engineer is called into the manager's office and told that he is not "a good fit" with the company and his employment is terminated.
  • A bisexual sales associate is seen holding hands with her girlfriend during her lunch break by the store's owner. Later that afternoon, the store owner calls the sales associate into his office and tells her that he does not approve of "homosexuality" and that "homosexuality is a sin." When the new work schedule comes out, the sales associate is assigned fewer work shifts. The following month her employment is terminated because she did not meet her sales goals. Four other sales associates also did not meet their sales goals but none are terminated.
  • A homosexual accountant is brought into a performance review and is told that his work performance is terrific but that his "personal life" may interfere with his chances for promotion. The employee responds that he does not understand why that would be so. The manager tells him matter-of-factly that having an openly gay individual as a partner in the firm makes some of the other partners uncomfortable. The next year, despite receiving an excellent performance review, the employee is not promoted to partner.

Sex Discrimination in California

Sex discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action because of his or her sex. Under California law, sex discrimination includes discrimination because an employee is a male or a female, as well as discrimination based on a woman’s pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition, on a woman having given birth or a birth-related medical condition, or based on breastfeeding or a breastfeeding medical condition.

Examples of sex discrimination include:

  • When a female restaurant manager becomes pregnant and informs the owner that she may need to take time off work for medical appointments, her shifts are reduced. A few weeks later, she receives the first write-up of her three years of employment. One week later, she receives another write-up, and her employment is terminated.
  • A female sales associate at a car dealership is repeatedly passed over for a promotion to a managerial position. Her less qualified male colleagues are promoted.
  • As the only woman in her firehouse, a female firefighter is constantly chastised about being a "girl" and told that firefighting is a man's job. She is given the worst shifts and assigned the least desirable jobs. When she complains about what is occurring, she is told to "suck it up." Even though she performs her job as well as her male colleagues, she consistently receives lower performance reviews which lead to lower pay and lower chances for promotion.

The Interactive Process Between the Employer & the Employee

In order to attempt to find a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disability, an employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee. An interactive process is an ongoing discussion between the employer and the employee regarding the employee's disability. Its purpose is for the employer to learn how the employee's disability affects his or her ability to do their job so that an attempt can be made to find a reasonable accommodation so that the employee can continue working.

An employer must engage in an interactive process with an employee. Failing to do so is a violation of California.

Disability Discrimination in California

Disability discrimination occurs when an employee is subject to an adverse employment action due to his or her disability. A disability can include physical conditions, illnesses, or complications from illnesses.

Examples of disability discrimination include:

  • A female employee suffers from severe back pain after being in a serious car accident. After a month’s medical leave in which she receives physical therapy, she returns to work. Her manager tells her that he is glad that she did not miss more work because management "does not like" when people miss work. One month later, the employee informs her manager that, in two weeks she will undergo back surgery and will need to miss six weeks of work to recuperate. Two days later, the employee's employment is terminated because of a "lack of work."
  • A diabetic male employee becomes ill and is hospitalized for a week due to complications from the disease. While in the hospital, he calls his supervisor and informs her about the hospitalization. When he returns to work, he provides his supervisor with a doctor's note regarding his absence. His employer subsequently terminates his employment, telling the employee that he only had two days of PTO remaining and, since he missed five days of work, he has accumulated too many absences.
  • A female employee is diagnosed with severe asthma and is instructed by her doctor not to work outside for long periods of time. Her current position requires that she spend approximately 20% of her time working outdoors. She informs her employer about her condition and her doctor’s instructions. Her employer tells her that her employment is terminated because she cannot work outside. At the time of the termination, the company had multiple open positions that would not have required outside work for which the employee was qualified.
  • A pregnant employee experiences complications from her pregnancy and is placed on bed rest by her doctor. Her employer grants her a leave pursuant to California's Pregnancy Disability Leave. However, when her pregnancy disability leave expires, the employee has yet to give birth and remains on bed rest. Her employer tells her that, because she has exhausted her "pregnancy leave," there is nothing else it needs to do and terminates her employment because she "cannot work.”

An Employer Must Attempt to Reasonably Accommodate an Employee's Disability

An employer must try to make a change to an employee's employment so that the employee can continue to work while disabled. Examples of reasonable accommodation include job restructuring, allowing part-time work, a temporary leave of absence, acquiring or modifying equipment, and reassignment to a vacant position.

If an employer does not offer an employee a reasonable accommodation when doing so would have allowed the employee to continue to perform their job, the employer has violated the law. Note, however, that an employer only has a duty to make a change to an employee's employment to accommodate a disability if doing so would not place an undue hardship on the employer or its operations. The burden is on the employer to show that a possible reasonable accommodation would create such a hardship.


Contact Malatesta Law to speak with Los Angeles discrimination attorney Andrew J. Malatesta at (424) 284-1384 today.


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