A Closer Look at Protected Classes
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal in all 50 states to discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, religion, disability, age, citizenship status or genetic information. The state of California has added marital status, sexual orientation, HIV status and political affiliation to this list. The federal regulations prohibiting workplace discrimination apply to any company with more than 15 employees. California’s rules prohibiting workplace inequity apply to any company with four employees or more. Those employees who are protected under these discrimination laws are called protected classes. All companies of any size must give equal pay for equal work to both male and female employees.
There are a number of issues related to workplace discrimination that are unique to the state of California:
- The California code states that employers are responsible for preventing discrimination and harassment. This duty extends to cases in which an employer should have known about it or should have acted to prevent it and did not.
- There is no cap on damages that can be awarded in a workplace discrimination case. There have been, however, cases in which damages were mitigated because the court determined that the plaintiff could have been more proactive in stopping the harassment.
- California law requires regular training in the prevention of discrimination and sexual harassment. Training must be held at least every two years, be interactive and be two hours long at a minimum.
- There is a duty to investigate any discrimination complaint that is raised, and a responsibility to engage in an open, interactive dialogue on the subject of discrimination should any employee request it.
If you belong to one of the protected classes and suspect you are suffering from some form of discrimination in your workplace, speak to an experienced discrimination lawyer. Call Los Angeles County Super Lawyers The Ruttenberg Law Firm, P.C. by calling 310.207.4022 or contact us online for a free consultation.