Under the laws of California, employers cannot discriminate against or harass workers. However, that doesn't mean that it still doesn't occur -- only that workers have recourse to these prohibited acts.
What specific actions and behaviors are prohibited?
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) bans discrimination for the following, which may be an employee's perceived but not actual:
- Age (older than 40)
- Disability status, whether it be mental or physical, and which also includes HIV diagnoses and persons living with AIDS
- Gender identity and expression
- Genetic data
- Marital status
- Medical conditions that include a cancer history and genetic characteristics
- Religion, encompassing grooming standards and religious clothing
- Veteran or military status
- Sex and gender, also as related to breastfeeding, childbirth, pregnancy and related conditions
- National origin, and possession of license to drive for those who can't prove they are legally allowed to be in the country
- Sexual orientation
These protections are extended not just to employees, but to job applicants, independent contractors and people working without pay, such as interns and volunteers. In fact, companies must take every reasonable step to prevent these individuals from being harassed while carrying out their duties.
The law goes even further and requires employers to offer information to all employees about these illegal discriminatory acts, their nature and which legal remedies apply to sexual harassment.
Companies can design their own publications as long as they meet all state standards and codes. If they prefer, employers can offer workers the publications provided by the DFEH.
Companies employing at least 50 workers, as well as public entities, must provide prevention training for supervisors regarding abusive behavior and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The law covers additional areas too numerous to detail in a single post. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against, it's prudent to understand all of your rights under the law.
Source: The Department of Fair Employment and Housing, "California Law Prohibits Workplace Discrimination and Harassment," accessed July 28, 2017