Most people know that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants, but what exactly is workplace discrimination? Workplace discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfairly based on their race, gender, religion, national origin, disability or age. This discrimination extends beyond just the process of hiring and firing, and includes behavior targeted at people who are currently employed.
Both federal law and California state law prohibit certain forms of workplace discrimination. These laws make it illegal to discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. Nevertheless, despite its illegality many people still report experiencing discrimination in their day-to-day lives as well as in the workplace.
The internet giant Google has been sued for gender discrimination, with three women who used to work for the company alleging a system of Google's giving males better positions which lead to better pay. The women are seeking certification as a legal "class" entitled to treat this litigation as a class action suit.
Although San Diego residents might think that employers would know that they could get in to a lot of trouble for discriminating against a woman because she is expecting or has recently had a child, pregnancy discrimination has been a persistent problem both in California and in other parts of the country.
A third professor at the Salk Institute, a research facility in the San Diego area known for attracting top scientists and making breakthrough discoveries in the life sciences, has accused the Institute of discrimination based on sex, joining two other colleagues who have also recently alleged sex discrimination at work.
An employer's discrimination against people of other religions in hiring, treatment, discipline or firing is illegal and can land the employer in trouble. However, the law of religious discrimination does have some important legal contours that Californians need to understand.