Protecting Your Business from Employment Discrimination Claims
As a business owner, it can sometimes feel as though you are trying to navigate a minefield to avoid a claim of employment discrimination. The virtual maze of state and federal laws that protect applicants and employees from workplace discrimination can be difficult for an employer to keep up with – yet you must do so to avoid litigation. To help protect your business from a claim of employment discrimination, an Irvine business litigation attorney at Brown & Charbonneau offers a basic explanation of some of the most common types of employment discrimination.
Types of Employment Discrimination
Both federal and state laws govern workplace discrimination which can add to the complex nature of this area of the law. It can also make it much more difficult for an employer to know what laws apply to a business. The following are brief descriptions of some – not all — of the most common types of workplace discrimination. The laws that prohibit workplace discrimination, however, are extremely complex and often include numerous exceptions and caveats that can mean the difference between compliance with the law or violation of the law for an employer. With that in mind, it is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced business law attorney to ensure that you understand and comply with all state and federal laws relating to your business.
- Age – age discrimination is defined as “treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40 and only applies to employers with at least 20 employees. In addition, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits workers who are 40 or older from workplace discrimination. The FEHA covers more employers as it applies to all employers with five or more employees.
- Disability – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids treating an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability or is believed to have a disability. The ADA requires an employer to provide a “reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability” unless doing so would cause an “undue hardship” for the employer. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The FEHA also protects against discrimination based on disability.
- Race/Color — race discrimination involves “treating someone unfairly because the individual is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features).” Color discrimination refers to treating someone unfairly because of the color of their skin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees, prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race or color. Discrimination based on race is also prohibited by FEHA.
- National origin – national origin discrimination involves treating people unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background. Both Title VII and FEHA prohibit this type of discrimination. Moreover, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate based upon an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. The law prohibits employers from hiring only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents unless required to do so by law, regulation or government contract.
- Religion – discrimination based on religion involves treating someone unfavorably because of his/her religious beliefs. This applies to both traditional, organized religions and to “sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.” Both Title VII and FEHA prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace. Similar to the requirement for employees with disabilities, federal law requires an employer to “reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business.”
- Sex – sex discrimination refers to treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of his/her sex. Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited by Tittle VII and also includes discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status, or because of sexual orientation. FEHA also prohibits sex discrimination while the California Fair Pay Act and the California Equal Pay Act require employers to pay employees who perform “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”
Contact an Irvine Employment Attorney
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP represents individuals as well as large and small companies in cases involving all forms of employment and business disputes. If you are involved in a employment dispute, or would like to learn about your rights and how to protect your business, we can provide you with the information you need. Contact us or call today at 714-505-3000 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you.
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