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It is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) for an employer to refuse to hire or employ a person, to refuse to select a person for a training program, to terminate an employee, to discriminate against a person in compensation, conditions, or privileges of employment because of any of the following “protected categories.”

  1. Race
  2. Religious creed
  3. Color
  4. National origin
  5. Ancestry
  6. Physical disability
  7. Mental disability
  8. Medical condition
  9. Genetic information
  10. Marital status
  11. Sex (including pregnancy and pregnancy-related medical conditions)
  12. Gender
  13. Gender identity
  14. Gender expression
  15. Age (over 40 years old)
  16. Sexual orientation
  17. Veteran or military status

You have experienced discrimination if you have been subjected to an adverse employment action because of a protected category. Examples of adverse employment actions include:

  • Demotions
  • Reductions in pay
  • Taking away supervisory responsibilities
  • Taking away your essential job duties
  • Termination

If you believe that you have been subjected to discrimination at work, contact our experienced employment law lawyers to see if you have a case.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The definition of “sex” under FEHA also includes pregnancy and pregnancy-related medical conditions. As a pregnant employee, you are entitled to extensive protections under California law. You might be entitled to protected leaves and the right to reinstatement to your same position following your leave. After the birth of your child, you are also entitled to additional lactation breaks, a space for your lactation breaks, and access to a refrigerator.

Sadly, many employers do not understand the numerous leaves to which pregnant employees might be entitled including Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), and the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”).  

Men may also be entitled to certain leave rights associated with a partner/spouse’s pregnancy, pregnancy-related medical conditions, and the birth of a child.

Equal Pay Act Discrimination

The California Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any employees wage rates that are less than what it pays employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.

“Substantially similar work” refers to work that is mostly similar in skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. “Skill” is the experience, ability, education, and training required to perform the job. “Effort” is the amount of physical or mental exertion needed to perform the job. “Responsibility” is the degree of accountability or duties required in performing the job. “Working conditions” has been interpreted to mean the physical surroundings (temperature, fumes, ventilation) and hazards.

“Wage rates” refers not only to the wages or salary paid, but also other forms of compensation and benefits.

Protected Leave Discrimination

California and federal laws protect the right of many workers to secure unpaid leave in the event of a medical emergency or family emergency. Under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) and federal Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), qualified employees may take up to twelve weeks of leave to care for their family or themselves in the event of a serious medical condition, without the threat of job termination or demotion. This leave can be taken as a single leave or in smaller increments, as needed. An employer cannot interfere with an employee’s rights to take protected leave, nor can an employer discriminate against an employee for taking a protected leave.

Employees are also entitled to 12 weeks of protected CFRA leave related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent in the U.S. armed forces.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

California law protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or a worker's perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, despite these protections, gay, lesbian, and transgender employees continue to suffer discrimination and harassment at work. The attorneys of Freeburg & Granieri, APC have extensive experience filing claims on behalf of LGBTQIA+ employees and protecting their rights.

USERRA Discrimination

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on military service or obligation. USERRA provides protection to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, along with those called up from the reserves or National Guard.


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