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UC Board of Regents Settles Racial Harassment Case for $4.5 Million

The Regents of the University of California have agreed to pay Dr. Christian Head, a surgeon at UCLA’s medical school, an out-of-court settlement of $4.5 million to resolve the racial discrimination claim he filed earlier this year. Dr. Head, a head and neck specialist, filed suit against his employer for failing to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation for filing complaints. In one particular incident, his face was superimposed onto a picture of a gorilla being sodomized by another faculty member, and the picture was presented at a slide show at an event for faculty members and graduating medical students.

What should I do if I am suffering racial harassment at work?

Under California anti-discrimination laws, it is prohibited for an employer or co-worker to discriminate against you on account of your race, color, national origin or ancestry. Prohibited discrimination can take many forms, such as unwarranted failure to consider someone for a job or promotion, or the assignment of inferior pay and benefits based on criteria unrelated to work capacity. There is an additional prohibition of harassment of an employee on account of race, color or national origin. If you have been on the receiving end of unlawful behavior, you should inform your supervisor, who should ensure that the employer takes appropriate steps to avoid a recurrence. If insufficient steps are taken, you have the option of filing a grievance with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). DFEH’s role is to investigate the allegation and press the employer to make changes. Failing that, it can bring a civil suit in your name against the offenders.

What remedies are available to me?

If you are successful in a civil suit for racial harassment or any other form of discrimination, the court can order a number of different remedies:

  • The employer may be levied a civil penalty of up to $25,000, which is payable to you ― the plaintiff
  • The court may award you damages, which can often reach significant sums
  • You may be reinstated in your position if you were fired
  • The employer may be required to run a training program for all employees on the rights and remedies under California laws

If you have been subject to racial harassment or discrimination at work, make sure you hire an experienced California labor law attorney to fight for your rights.

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