San Francisco Discrimination Lawyer
Have you been the victim of discrimination at work? Discrimination based on an employee’s identity and protected class is illegal. Fortunately, California has some of the broadest anti-discrimination laws in the country through the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Local city laws may provide even further protection. San Francisco, for example, has a law which prohibits discrimination of an employee because of his or her height or weight.
If you felt discriminated against at work, don’t stay silent. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing mistreated employees. Contact our office today for a consultation or read below to learn more.
- Types of discrimination cases we handle.
- Examples of workplace discrimination.
- What workers are protected by anti-discrimination laws?
- Starting a discrimination case.
Types of Discrimination Cases We Handle and Protected Classes
At Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, our attorneys handle the following types of discrimination at work:
- Age Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Race Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
- Sex and Gender Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination
What is workplace discrimination?
Employment discrimination is behavior that shows bias against an employee based on their identity and protected class. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Employment and Housing Act combine to form some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country. The following types of conduct could be discrimination:
Recruitment and Hiring
- Relying only on word-of-mouth recruiting that favors a certain type of employee
- Requesting that an employment agency only refer applicants who are of a particular status
- Using discriminatory hiring criteria without being able to prove that they are job-related
- Relying on the discriminatory preferences of coworkers, customers, or clients as the deciding factor for employment
- Requiring a specific “corporate look” or “image” policy as a proxy for prejudices in hiring
Assignment and Promotion
- Assigning or refusing to assign individuals to certain positions, facilities, or locations
- Physically isolating employees or segregating workers into jobs
- Denying promotions based on discriminatory reasons
Wages and Benefits
- Not providing equal pay to workers in similar positions
- Denying benefits once they have been offered
Discipline, Demotion, and Discharge
- Discharging employees based on illegal reasons
- Using customers’ or clients’ preferences to justify discipline, demotion, or discharge decisions
- Harassing behaviors from supervisors, employees, or customers that create a hostile work environment
- Factors to consider include:
- Whether the conduct was hostile and/or offensive
- Whether the individual was physically threatened or intimidated
- How frequently the misconduct was repeated
- The context in which the harassment occurred
Can A Supervisor’s Comments Provide Evidence of Discriminatory Intent?
It is sometimes challenging to prove discriminatory intent. Evidence is required, obviously, but what kind? Courts have often talked about two kinds of evidence: direct and indirect.
- Direct evidence consists of clearly sexist, racist, or discriminatory statements or actions by the employer. It proves an employer’s bias without any further inferences. Dominguez-Curry v. Nevada Transp. Dep’t, 424 F.3d 1027, 1038 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co., 413 F.3d 1090, 1095 (9th Cir. 2005)).
- Indirect or “circumstantial” evidence involves showing that the employer’s reason for the adverse employment decision is not credible. Id. at 1043.
A supervisor’s discriminatory comments may provide strong direct evidence of discrimination. When a supervisor exhibits discriminatory bias, it may be reasonable to conclude that the employment decision was motivated by unlawful bias. Id. at 1039-40 (citing Mondero v. Salt River Project, 400 F.3d 1207, 1213 (9th Cir. 2005). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that even “a single discriminatory comment by a plaintiff’s supervisor or decision maker is sufficient to preclude summary judgment for the employer.” Id. at 1039.
What Workers are Protected by Anti-Discrimination Laws?
- Employees. Anyone who was hired by the employer and works under their direction. This applies to companies with five or more employees.
- Job Applicants. If someone has applied for work or expresses interest in applying for a position, they have rights under California Law.
- Temporary Employees. In most cases, California Law protects temps. They can hold both the temp agency and business they were employed by accountable for discrimination.
- Unpaid Interns. Although generally not considered employees, California Law protects them from discrimination.
Starting a Discrimination Case
Check your Company’s Discrimination Policy
Before filing with the EEOC or DFEH, check your company’s discrimination policy. It should have steps on who to contact regarding your complaint. Ask them to investigate your claim. Present any evidence you have at this time. Internal investigations can solve many claims without ever going to court. If your employer ignores your complaint or you don’t get satisfactory results, you will have to file a formal complaint with the appropriate agency.
Filing a Complaint with the EEOC or the DFEH
An employee who experienced discrimination first must file with a state or federal administrative agency before going to court. Time limits will vary depending on which agency you file with.
Statute of Limitations
- If filing a state claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), employees have one year to file from the discriminatory act.
- An employee may also file a federal claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The time limit in California for such claim is within 300 days of the discriminatory act.
It is important to note that there is a work sharing agreement between the EEOC and DFEH. Filing a claim with one generally automatically files a claim with the other. Who you file with first determines which agency will investigate.
Investigations can take months. After the investigation is complete, the agency will try and bring the parties together to mediate and settle. If these negotiations fail, they will issue a Notice of Right to Sue which allows you to take legal action against your employer. It is possible to obtain this notice without undergoing the agency investigation. However, this is unwise without speaking to a discrimination attorney.
Damages in Discrimination Cases
Courts award damages for practices that adversely impact “terms, conditions, or privileges” of employment (TCP). An employee who wins a discrimination case can receive the following civil damages:
- Compensation for any unfair employment practices and money lost by those practices
- Attorneys fees and other litigation related expenses
- Future earnings or reinstatement of the employee’s position
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Punitive damages for gross cases of discrimination
Contact an Attorney Today
Anti-discrimination laws ensure that employers treat their workers fairly. If you felt discriminated by a company or business in San Francisco, remember that there are strict deadlines on pursuing claims. Get in touch with one of our lawyers today before time runs out and see how we can help you receive fair treatment at your job.
“The expertise of Peter Rukin specifically, complemented by that of the firm, was extremely valuable in providing me with the tools required to successfully navigate the situation. Their professionalism with respect to each nuance of the situation, including the time-sensitive nature of it, is very appreciated.” – Adam