Do Employers Always Have To Make Accommodations For Employees With Disabilities?

The short answer is no. But it’s a little more complicated than that. The law is trying to level the employment playing field as much as possible for persons who are challenged with disabilities but who are otherwise fully capable of performing the responsibilities of employment. 

An employer’s responsibility to accommodate the needs of an employee with a disability is unique to the employment situation and the employee. California’s laws are to be interpreted broadly with the goal of making employment accessible for all people who are capable of doing the work. 

That is not to say that employers are required to give in to every accommodation request made by an employee. An employer is not obligated to put themselves in a position of extreme sacrifice to accommodate an employee’s disability. Employers with four or fewer employees in California are not subject to employment discrimination laws and do not have to provide accommodations for their employees.

When an employer has failed to provide an accommodation to an employee, and the employee has brought a disability discrimination claim against the employer, the court will consider the employee’s request and how easily the employer could have made the accommodation. It wouldn’t go well for the employer if the employee’s accommodation request had a solution that the employer could have provided without too much trouble. 

What California Law Says Employers Must Do   

The California Code of Regulations requires employers to evaluate job applicants and employees on the basis of their individual skills, knowledge, and abilities and to establish employment practices that result in equal treatment for all persons regardless of:

  • Race
  • Religious creed
  • Color 
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Age – 40+
  • Military and veteran status
  • Sexual orientation

When is an Employee Considered Disabled?

What counts as a disability is broadly defined for employment discrimination purposes and includes many mental and physical conditions but generally excludes mental conditions associated with criminal conduct and mild physical conditions that do not affect major life activities. 

An employer who is aware of a job applicant’s or employee’s disability must make reasonable accommodations for the disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship

The California Legislature has said that an accommodation imposes an undue hardship when it requires significant difficulty or expense after considering the following factors:

  • The nature and cost of the requested accommodation
  • Financial resources of the employer
  • How the accommodation might affect the business
  • The type of business operations 
  • Geographic considerations

An employer also has a recognized defense to an accusation of disability discrimination. No accommodation is necessary if the employer can show that there is no reasonable accommodation that can be made for an applicant’s or employee’s disability that would allow the person to perform the essential job functions without risk of substantial harm to themselves or others.

How Employers Comply With Disabled Employee Discrimination Laws

In order to determine a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability, the employer and employee are to engage in an interactive process to identify possible solutions for the employee’s situation. A standardized accommodation may not be a fit for a particular disability so accommodations are to be based on individual needs.  

Employers may accommodate an employee’s disability in any of the following ways:

  • Modifying job duties
  • Modifying work hours
  • Making work facilities accessible
  • Relocating an employee to different work facilities
  • Modifying work equipment or buying additional equipment
  • Flexible leave policies
  • Reassigning an employee to a different position
  • Changing company policies
  • Providing training or assistance

What to do if an Employer is Unwilling to Accommodate an Employee’s Disability

Just because an employee with a disability makes a request for an accommodation does not mean an employer is required to do exactly what the employee has proposed. The employee has begun a dialogue with the employer as to what would be a reasonable solution that would allow the employee equal access to an employment opportunity. 

An employee should make sure that an accommodation request is reasonable given the work location, the employer’s business, and the financial capacity of the employer. Requests should be made in writing and should follow any procedures specified by the employer. Employers should respond to accommodation requests in a timely manner.

If an accommodation request is denied, the next move depends on the reason for the denial. An employee may be able to provide additional information or propose an alternative accommodation. If an employer remains uncooperative or ignores accommodation requests, an employee can file an employment discrimination claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). For employers with 15 or more employees, the option also exists to file a federal claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Enforce Workplace Rights with a Sacramento Employment Discrimination Attorney

An employee or job applicant with a qualifying disability has the right to the same employment opportunities as other employees or job applicants without the disability. In order to enforce that right, the law imposes an obligation on certain employers to make the work they need to be done accessible to qualified persons with disabilities. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, and those accommodations will vary depending on the needs of the employee. Employers that won’t comply need to be held accountable. 

At Perkins Asbill, our employment discrimination attorneys have over three decades of combined legal experience helping employees in the greater Sacramento area enforce their legal rights against workplace discrimination. Whether an employee needs help preparing a disability accommodation request for an employer or an employer is not cooperating with an employee’s accommodation request, Perkins Asbill can help employees get the fairness they are entitled to. 

Call Perkins Asbill at 916-446-2000 or contact a Sacramento employment discrimination lawyer here.

Understanding the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Pregnancy discrimination is a particularly awful form of discrimination because it targets a subset of employees and may deter those employees from considering pregnancy. Employers should not interfere with a woman’s right to conceive a child and should encourage pregnancy where appropriate. When facing this type of discrimination, women should understand their rights and protections in the workplace.  

What is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides pregnant women with workplace protections. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination and harassment based on a list of protected classifications, including race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Since its passage, Congress has passed numerous amendments to include other forms of protected classifications like age, disability, veteran and immigrant status, and pregnancy.

What Constitutes Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency tasked with investigating and adjudicating claims of employment discrimination, the PDA prohibits employers from

treat[ing] a pregnant worker who is temporarily unable to perform some of her job duties because of pregnancy less favorably than workers whose job performance is similarly restricted because of conditions other than pregnancy.

Common forms of pregnancy discrimination can include terminating a woman for becoming pregnant or expecting her to become pregnant during her employment or the failure to:

  • Hire a woman for being pregnant or expecting her to become pregnant during employment.
  • Provide a recent mother a safe and clean environment to lactate.
  • Accommodate a reasonable request for a change in working conditions during a pregnancy (i.e., lifting restrictions of 20 lbs. or less).
  • Provide the employee maternity leave as required by law.
  • Provide a formerly pregnant employee with the same or similar position upon returning from maternity or medical leave.

Who Enforces the Act?

Before an employee can file a lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination against their employer, they must file a claim with the EEOC or a similar state agency. Under federal and state law, addressing allegations of discrimination against an employer must go through an administrative process first before the employee can file an action in court.

To begin the claim process, an employee must first file a complaint form with the EEOC describing each instance of discrimination. The EEOC will then open an investigation into the complainant’s employer by reviewing relevant evidence to determine whether the employee’s allegations meet civil rights violation standards.

The standard for employment discrimination is whether similarly situated employees have also been treated the same. For example, a pregnant employee requested light duty and was denied because the employer could not accommodate her request. If the employer can prove they have rejected the request to other pregnant employees for the same reason, then the employee’s discrimination claim will most likely fail.

Once an investigation concludes, the EEOC will determine whether to file a complaint on the employee’s behalf. Filing a complaint does not necessarily mean the employee violated the law. Instead, filing a complaint allows the case to proceed with the complainant’s permission. The EEOC will then require both parties to engage in mediation to resolve outstanding issues, including resolving the matter through a financial settlement, granting the employee’s request for accommodation, reinstating the employee after their termination, or adopting new policies to address concerns raised by the action.

Finally, after mediation, the EEOC may still not continue the complaint process and not file a lawsuit. However, once this determination has occurred, the employee can request a right-to-sue letter granting a court jurisdiction (the ability to review a legal matter) over the case.

I Just Found Out I’m Pregnant. What Should I Do Now?

As all mothers know, some pregnancies are planned well in advance, while others can be a bit of a surprise. Regardless, one of the most important things a woman can do is notify her employer of her pregnancy. Providing notification is a courtesy to employers and helps both expecting mothers and their employers plan for the future.

There is no actual legal requirement for someone to notify their employer of pregnancy in most cases. However, it is good practice to notify your employer sooner rather than later and notification will commence the process to utilize leave time. For example, pregnant employees should provide a supervisor or manager with written notification of their pregnancy and ask to speak with that person about the next steps.

At this point, most employers will likely want to talk to the employee about the next steps, including the potential use of the employer’s materiality leave policies, reasonable accommodations for the employee, and a general timeline of the expected due date. Employees should always keep detailed records of correspondence or other documents to communicate with their employer about any issues that may impact their ability to perform their job duties.

How Should an Employee Address Discrimination Based on their Pregnancy Status?

Employment lawyers know first-hand the incredible impact discrimination can have on an employee’s morale. It can be an emotionally draining experience for many. Once a woman faces discrimination in the workplace due to a pregnancy, they should do the following to address it directly and prepare for future legal proceedings:

  • Review the employer’s workplace policies on maternity leave, family and medical leave, and discrimination.
  • Communicate with upper-level management or human resources about discriminatory actions by immediate supervisors or fellow employees.
  • Document, in detail, instances of discrimination, including the time and location of the event, and any witnesses involved in the interaction.
  • Contact an experienced pregnancy discrimination with the details of the discrimination as discrimination claims have a strict statute of limitations (180 days for the EEOC and three calendar years for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing).

What Other Laws Protect Pregnant Employees in the Workplace?

Although the PDA protects women from discrimination based on their pregnancy status or an expectation of becoming pregnant, women can look to other laws for additional protection—in some cases, violations of these laws can also constitute pregnancy discrimination. Such laws include:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): pregnancy is not considered a disability, but medical issues related to pregnancy can be regarded as disabilities.
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): pregnant employees can use FLMA to take additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for childbirth and other childcare-related issues.
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Pregnancy Disability Leave Act Act (PDL): provide additional leave rights for pregnant employees.

Workplace Vaccination Mandates – A Dilemma for Employers and Workers

Since the U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or full authorized use for three COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen), a question has troubled employers: are we or should we mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for our employees?

The question tries to strike a balance between ensuring employees’ safe working conditions; complying with local, state, and federal guidelines; and respecting an individual’s freedom of choice and medical circumstances. Thus, as of January 21, 2022, there is no clear answer, but recent developments may have shed light on the issue to help California employers make an informed decision for their employees.

New OSHA Rule Stalled in the Courts

Late last year, the Biden Administration announced it would direct the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency tasked with regulating and enforcing workplace safety laws throughout the U.S., to promulgate an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to implement COVID-19 vaccination mandates as a condition of their employment or require a health or religious accommodation for those employees.

Unsurprisingly, this decision was challenged in federal court by numerous covered private companies and interest groups against the OSHA ETS. On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court struck down OSHA’s authority to promulgate such a rule unless the employee was a nursing home facility that received Medicare or Medicaid funds.

Estimates show that the rule would have prompted some-80 million employees across the U.S. to become fully vaccinated. In addition, under the rule, employers would have had to ensure compliance amongst their employees or face financial penalties from OSHA.

California’s Position on Vaccination Mandates

With the Supreme Court’s ruling comes new issues facing many California employers and employees, including whether employers should implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate given that OSHA can no longer enforce the bulk of their vaccination ETS.

Currently, the California Department of Industrial Relations has created its own rules for addressing COVID-19 in the workplace. Under the current rules, set to expire next month, employers can request employees to submit proof of vaccination and require employees to be vaccinated. However, the decision to establish a mandatory vaccination policy is at the employer’s discretion and not a requirement by the State of California. If an employer has implemented or is seeking a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, below are some considerations employees should know when experiencing this process.

Mandating Vaccinations in the Workplace

Very little prevents an employer from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees. In fact, the underlying policy of requiring private-sector employers to mandate vaccinations is likely one of the most surefire ways to ensure as many Americans as possible receive a vaccine. However, while President Biden’s OSHA vaccination rule remains blocked by the Supreme Court, private companies are likely considering implementing their own mandates (if they have not done so already).

Compliance with the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a framework for employees with disabilities to obtain reasonable workplace accommodations based on their ailments. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the administrative body charged with handling workplace discrimination claims, including disabilities-related discrimination, has provided comprehensive guidance to employers required to provide their employees reasonable workplace accommodations under the law.

As COVID-19 vaccines have become widely available to most Americans, employers must consider two forms of workplace accommodations for employees that cannot obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, including health and religious accommodations.

Health Accommodation

Under a health accommodation, an employer must engage in what the EEOC refers to as the “interactive process” to provide an employee with reasonable accommodation. Under the interactive process, employees need not disrupt their employer’s business operations to accommodate them. Instead, they must provide the employee with reasonable accommodation based on the request. Under a health accommodation, an employer may allow an employee unable to take the vaccine to work from home, work in an area in the facility that is socially distant from other employees, wear a face covering, and engage in weekly testing for COVID-19.

Religious Accommodation

Like health accommodations, an employer may need to make a religious accommodation per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee’s religion. Per EEOC guidance, an employee need not utter the “magic words” describing their requested religious accommodation. Instead, they need only notify their employer that their sincerely held religious belief prevents them from taking a vaccine. Like an ADA accommodation, the employer must determine how the employee can still perform their essential job functions and not take the vaccine based on their religious beliefs.

Employees Represented by a Union

Under Sections 8(d) and 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, employers are required by law to bargain in “good faith” with the representative of a labor union. This can include bargaining the impact or effect of current workplace policies. Although employers have a fundamental right under the NLRA to make business decisions that impact the workplace, unions have a right to inquiry and bargain over their policies’ effect on their workers.

An employer that employs unionized employees can consider and adopt a mandatory vaccination policy for workers. However, to avoid receiving an unfair labor practice charge (a charge that the employer or union violated the law), an employer should notify the collective bargaining represented during the process of considering a vaccination mandate or when the policy has been adopted. This allows the employer and the union to engage in impact bargaining over how the policy will affect employees.

Again, a union cannot prevent the employer from adopting such a policy. Still, the union can bargain over how that policy impacts employees, including paid time off to get a vaccine or acquire testing, periods for employees to become fully vaccinated, and providing additional accommodations for employees unable to get vaccinated.

You May Need to Speak to an Attorney

Employers adopting a vaccination mandate should maintain the confidentiality of their employees by storing vaccination information in a separate file from the employee’s personnel file. Further, employers should continue to implement and enforce state and local COVID-19 mitigation measures, including wearing face coverings, providing proper sanitation, and enforcing social distancing, if required.

Perkins Asbill’s Sacramento business litigation attorneys have experience addressing a wide variety of employee discrimination. With a constantly changing workplace environment due to COVID-19, it is crucial to have legal representation. Contact (916) 446-2000 for a discreet consultation to get started on your case or discuss your options.

Does the ADA Cover Psychiatric Disabilities?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including schools, transportation, jobs, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of this law is to ensure that those with a disability have the same opportunities and rights as everyone. Just as rights and liberties are provided to individuals regardless of race, national origin, sex, age, and religious beliefs. The ADA enacts civil rights to individuals with disabilities.

Who is Covered Under the ADA?

A person with a disability is defined as an individual who:

  • Has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities.
  • Has a record of such an impairment, or 
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

A psychiatric condition that substantially limits a person’s major life activity, including sleeping, working, or thinking, may be regarded as a disability under the ADA. And employers may have an obligation to reasonably accommodate workers with this disability. If they do not, it can be considered disability discrimination. 

However, not everyone with a psychiatric disability will qualify for ADA protection. If an individual is too severely disabled to perform the essential job functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation, they may not be qualified for the job. If this is the case, the employer can fire the employee or refuse to hire the candidate. 

What is a Psychiatric Disability?

A psychiatric disability is defined by the ADA as a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a mental impairment includes any mental or psychological disorder, such as an emotional or mental illness, including:

  • Panic disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Other phobias such as eating disorders, agoraphobia, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder
  • Dissociative disorders such as depersonalization disorder and dissociative identity disorder

What Do Reasonable Accommodations Mean For a Psychiatric Disability?

If an individual has a psychiatric condition that qualifies as a disability under the ADA, they may be able to receive reasonable accommodations if these accommodations are required to perform a function of their job.

These reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, and reassignment to a different vacant position
  • Changes to the workplace that can help the employee concentrate better, including modifying equipment, adding partitions, soundproofing a workspace, adjusting policies, or moving an employee to a less noisy area
  • Providing more frequent reminders of tasks and due dates
  • Increasing the number of short breaks an employee can take or allowing them to work from home
  • Allowing the employee to take doctor appointments when needed and allowing them to have a water bottle to take their medications when required
  • Allowing the employee to attend meetings remotely

In addition, if a worker has issues communicating or responding to directions because of their psychiatric disability, it may be reasonable under the ADA for a supervisor or manager to adjust their communication style or management techniques, such as sending more instructions through e-mail or strictly using voice messages. These changes may be considered reasonable, even if the method is not the supervisor’s preferred style of providing instructions to their workers. 

Accommodations are typically triggered when the supervisor or manager becomes aware of the employee’s disability and realizes that the individual needs an accommodation. Unfortunately, individuals with this disability are often too fearful of disclosing their impairment because of the social stigma that is often associated with psychiatric disabilities.

Notifying the Employer of the Psychiatric Disability 

An employee with a psychiatric disability will usually have to notify the employer of their impairment and ask for the accommodations they need. Additionally, managers can also ask their employees to identify the specific disability they have to figure out whether any accommodations are necessary. 

However, if an individual with a psychiatric disability does not request for an accommodation, their employer is generally under no obligation to provide one. But if the employee asks for an accommodation but does not specify what type, then management and the employee should work together to develop the right solution. 

Undue Hardship and Reasonable Accommodations 

Title I of the ADA requires that organizations and employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability who are applicants or employees of the company unless providing this accommodation would cause an undue hardship

Under the ADA, undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense for the organization. Generally, this hardship focuses on the resources and the circumstances of the particular employer in relation to the cost or difficulty of providing the specific accommodation. As a result, this undue hardship not only refers to financial difficulty but also makes it clear that if the reasonable accommodation is unduly extensive, substantial, disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business, it can also be considered an undue hardship.

That is why an employer must assess each reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis to determine if it would cause the company an undue hardship.

Psychiatric Disability Discrimination in the News

Psychiatric disability discrimination is nothing new. For instance, take the recent case where a staffing company fired an employee with a psychiatric disability instead of providing them with reasonable accommodation. 

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee worked as a marketing coordinator and needed to take leave because of a psychiatric disability. However, the company denied the employee’s request and fired her when she was medically cleared to work after a hospitalization.

The EEOC is now seeking monetary relief, including compensatory damages, back pay, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future disability discrimination by the company.

Get the Legal Help You Need Today

If you have a psychiatric disability and believe that you have been discriminated against at work for this condition, make sure to contact Perkins Asbill, A Professional Law Corporation, today for a discreet consultation or call our office at 916-446-2000. 

Transgender Rights in the Workplace

Individuals whose gender identification and/or expression differs from their sex assigned at birth or from typical cultural standards of male and female gender roles are referred to as “transgender.” Transgender persons, like non-transgender people, can be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or asexual. Transgender people face discrimination in many areas of their lives, including the workplace.

It is illegal to terminate, refuse to hire, harass, or otherwise discriminate against you because of your gender identity, gender transition, sex assigned at birth, or transgender status, according to federal laws against sex and disability discrimination. If you have faced any sort of discrimination within the workplace, it is important to know your rights and also know the obligations your employer owe you, as a protected individual. 

Your Rights at Work 

For transgender or transitioning people, employment is one of the most legally and personally problematic areas. Many people define themselves by work because it is a necessary means to life. We spend a significant amount of time devoted to our jobs and cannot earn a living or afford health insurance without it. In a recent transgender study, 90 percent of respondents stated they had experienced workplace discrimination or maltreatment, and 26% said they had lost their jobs as a result of their gender identity or presentation.

Losing your job through termination is particularly damaging to someone who is already dealing with workplace conflicts or abuse. Transgender survey respondents who had lost a job were four times more likely to become homeless, 70 percent more likely to have drinking or drug issues, and 50 percent more likely to be incarcerated than those who had not lost a job.

Recently, there has been some success in protecting transgender rights by applying federal sex discrimination law and state disability law. Ordinances are also being enacted in several states and localities. 

Employer Obligations 

Your employer cannot prohibit you from disclosing your transgender status or gender identity, nor may you be fired for doing so. If your workplace has policies prohibiting personal talks with coworkers, clients, or customers, those policies must be implemented equally to all employees and cannot be used to discriminate against transgender people. Your employer is also prohibited from disclosing your transgender status without your permission.

Additionally, every employee has a right to a secure and appropriate restroom and locker room. This includes the right to use a restroom or locker room that is gender-neutral, regardless of the employee’s designated sex at birth. Furthermore, where practicable, a business should provide an easily accessible unisex single stall bathroom for use by any employee who wants more privacy, regardless of the cause. It should always be a personal choice to use a unisex single stall restroom. 

In a gender-appropriate facility, no employee should be forced to use one as a matter of policy or due to harassment. All single-user toilet facilities in any business or corporation, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency must be designated as all-gender toilet facilities unless exempted by other provisions of state law.

An employer cannot put forth any policy or rule that would discriminate only against transgender individuals at a workplace a no other working. You are owed the same rights and treatment as any other working at any organization or workplace. 

Common Transgender Workplace Issues

You have the right to be treated with decency and to be free of harassment. When sex-based harassment is serious or widespread, and an employer does nothing to stop it, it is illegal. Harassment based on a person’s gender can take several forms, including:

  • Harsh and demeaning remarks or jokes about transgender people
  • Use of the incorrect name or pronouns on a regular basis with malice or done on purpose
  • Personal queries that are intrusive and disrespectful may also be considered harassment

Another common and more prevalent issue is when a person is transitioning while still remaining employed in the same role. The transition may or may not include surgery, but it will almost certainly necessitate management’s assistance with the employee’s adjustment in the workplace, as well as with coworkers’ concerns during the process.

What Laws Protect My Rights? 

Over the last 15 years, federal appellate courts have increasingly acknowledged that discrimination against transgender people is a kind of sex discrimination that is illegal under federal law. These court victories set the way for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) historic 2012 decision in the case Macy v. Holder, which found that such discrimination is illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

The EEOC’s Macy decision is binding on the federal government and shows conclusively that federal transgender workers are entitled to Title VII protections. It also supports transgender employees, both public and private, across the country who believe they have been subjected to workplace discrimination by allowing them to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will investigate complaints and, if found valid, pursue settlements and, in some cases, file lawsuits.

In 2014, 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as over 130 cities and counties across the US, expressly prohibited discrimination based on gender identity. In addition, an increasing number of private companies have anti-discrimination policies that encompass bias towards transgender persons.

Despite the fact that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act expressly excludes transgender persons from its protections, some campaigners have succeeded in filing state disability claims on their behalf. Many people are fight for the rights of transgender individuals and we hope to see even more progression and protection within the next few years. 

Contact an Employment Law Attorney Today to Know Your Rights

If an employee can show that he or she has been discriminated against because of their status as a protected class, California employment discrimination laws may allow them to sue the employer.

An attorney can help you clarify your goals and evaluate the potential benefits and costs of filing an employment discrimination lawsuit, whether you are seeking financial compensation, personal vindication, or simply to ensure that this type of discrimination does not happen to others in the future.

Perkins Asbill’s Sacramento employment law attorneys have more than 30 years of experience navigating the complexities of the California Labor Code, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and other related statutes. To get started on your case, contact (916) 446-2000 for a discreet consultation.

Examples of Harassment and Discrimination Against Overweight Workers

Discrimination and harassment can take many forms in the workplace. One of the ones that many people may not consider up front is harassment or discrimination on the basis of body weight. Often, overweight workers face both unintentional discrimination due to internalized biases and more intentional discrimination, including unfair jokes and mockery.

Have you faced discrimination in the workplace due to your weight or size? Consider some of these examples of discrimination and harassment. 

Obvious Obesity Discrimination

Obesity discrimination has continued to rise over the years. Discrimination and harassment may include clear, obvious signs of discrimination, such as:

Teasing or Jokes About Weight

Commenting on someone’s size at work is always inappropriate. Jokes about your weight can undermine your self-confidence and negatively impact your job performance, particularly if you already have poor body image or struggle with your weight and self-esteem. 

Less Courtesy at Work

Sometimes, coworkers may extend less courtesy to you because of your weight. They may have obvious negative biases, including thinking you “lazy” or “without willpower,” or think that you do not deserve adequate room because of your size. As a result, you may find yourself struggling to get adequate room at conference room tables, or feeling judged because of your size during normal conversations with coworkers. 

Promotion Denial or Firing

Most of the time, employers will not outright tell you that they are firing you because of your weight. Sometimes, however, you may see obvious signs that you have been denied a promotion or even fired from your job because of your weight. You might hear comments on your size or appearance from your coworkers or your employer, for example, leading up to the inevitable firing, or your manager might even tell you that you don’t have the right “look” that they’re trying to portray for the office–all of which are highly discriminatory and, in fact, illegal.

Comments or “Coaching” on Appearance

Sometimes, your employer or coworker might try to coach you on a professional appearance. While there’s nothing wrong with coaching in the right light–such as if you’re dressing inappropriately for the office or failing to meet grooming standards expected of employees–if that coaching seems to be centered on you as a result of your weight, it could be construed as harassment. 

Social Exclusion

Social groups exist in any workplace, and you may not get along with every group all the time. However, sometimes, that exclusion may be deliberate, as a result of your weight–and your coworkers may not be subtle about it. You may, for example, get comments about activities you “wouldn’t want” to engage in due to your larger size, or miss out on restaurant invitations. Some social groups may deliberately exclude you based on your appearance. Social exclusion due to your size counts as workplace discrimination and can be addressed as such. 

Subtle Discrimination of Overweight Workers in the Workplace

While some discrimination and harassment is obvious, other times, you may notice subtle exclusion based on your weight or appearance in the workplace. Keep an eye out for these signs, which could be a result of discrimination.

Missed Opportunities

Do you miss out on opportunities that are offered to peers at your same level within the organization? Do your peers get sent to conferences, events, and seminars more often? Are they selected more frequently for big projects? If there are no other performance issues that could cause the problem, you may want to consider whether you have faced weight-based discrimination. 

Infrequent and Inconsistent Praise

Consider how your coworkers are treated and the standards they’re held to when working on a project. Sometimes, due to intrinsic biases against people who are overweight, managers may fail to recognize your contributions the same way they do contributions from lower-weight peers. You may notice, for example, that work that would receive praise when someone else turns it in is simply considered “acceptable” when you do, or that you are even given negative feedback, even when you turn in work that is the same standard as what seems to be expected or even lauded when turned in by your peers. 

Trouble Getting Raises or Promotions

Do you find yourself locked into the same position, regardless of your efforts to seek a promotion? Is your pay rate lower than others in your organization who work at the same level you do–including those who may have been there for the same amount of time or less? If so, you may find that intrinsic discrimination is to blame, as managers use their internal opinions about your weight to gauge your accomplishments instead of your actual work performance. 

What Should You Do If You Face Obesity Discrimination at Work?

Obesity discrimination at work can cause serious problems with your self-esteem, your performance, and even your income or work track, especially if you miss out on opportunities and promotions as a result of discrimination. Luckily, you do have the right to stand up for yourself when you face discrimination in the workplace.

Start by documenting examples of discrimination, including active harassment and more passive evidence. If you have access to other team members’ salary information, for example, you could use that documentation to show that your employer is not offering you the compensation they should. Likewise, if you have faced overt discrimination, such as being told that you cannot travel or participate in a particular activity or event because of your weight, you should document those occasions.

If relevant, you may want to report specific instances of discrimination or harassment to your HR department. Keep in mind that the HR department cannot act on circumstances they aren’t aware of. Make sure to issue specific descriptions of the discrimination you have faced and the individuals who participated in that discrimination, and that you document the complaint to HR in writing.

Next, talk to your lawyer about your rights. If you have faced weight-based discrimination at work, you may deserve compensation. Contact Perkins Asbill, A Professional Law Corporation at 916-446-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

What are My Rights When Facing Mental Illness Discrimination in the Workplace?

Mental illness, like many common physical disabilities, can impact every area of your daily life–including the way you approach your work responsibilities, deal with your coworkers, or handle challenges that you may face in the workplace. However, mental disabilities, like physical ones, are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990.

If your employer has 15 or more employees, it cannot discriminate against you because of your mental illness. That means the company cannot refuse to hire you, fail to provide you with advancement or training opportunities, or let you go as a direct result of your mental illness. Furthermore, the company may have to make reasonable accommodations that will allow you to handle your job in spite of your mental illness. 

Have you suffered discrimination in the workplace as a result of your mental illness? A lawyer can help go over your rights and pursue the compensation you may deserve for those illegal actions. 

Direct vs. Indirect Discrimination

The ADA notes that both direct and indirect discrimination against individuals with mental illnesses is illegal in the workplace. Direct discrimination includes actions that the individual knows result directly from the mental illness. They might include, for example, refusing to allow a mentally ill employee to take advantage of certain training opportunities, or firing a mentally ill employee because of needed accommodations for that mental illness. Indirect discrimination, on the other hand, may not be quite so obvious. It might, for example, include a company policy that discriminates unintentionally against mentally ill individuals, or the employer’s decision to promote individuals based on attributes that have nothing to do with their actual job responsibilities. 

Types of Workplace Discrimination Against Mental Illness

Workplace discrimination against mental illness can take several different forms. If you have questions about whether you may have faced discrimination, or what type of discrimination you may have faced, consult an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and whether you may deserve compensation for the challenges you have faced.

Hiring Discrimination

An employer cannot legally ask about mental illnesses during the hiring or interview process. However, you may need to disclose information about your mental illness before formally accepting a job, since you may require accommodations to help you manage your work or the challenges that come along with your mental illness. If an employer turns you down for a job you had previously been offered after finding out about your mental illness, you may have faced hiring discrimination in the workplace.

Harassment

Some people do not deal well, or fairly, with signs of mental illness in others. Harassment can take many forms, but at its root, it calls attention to or makes fun of the behaviors that often go hand-in-hand with your mental illness and the challenges you may face every day. An employer or coworker might call you names or use inappropriate language regarding your mental illness, including language that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened. You might also find someone mimicking your behaviors. 

Opportunity Denial

There are some opportunities that you might turn down because of your mental illness, or areas in which you might require accommodation because of the way your mental illness affects you. If, for example, you have severe PTSD that may be triggered by flying, you might choose to turn down the opportunity to attend a conference or event that occurs far enough from home that you would need to fly in. On the other hand, that is a decision that you should have the right to make alongside your employer. Likewise, if you have severe anxiety, and stress makes it worse, you might choose to forego a promotion into a position that would cause you additional stress, but your employer cannot deny you the ability to move up because of depression, anxiety, or other signs of mental illness. If you have been turned down for those opportunities directly because of your mental illness (rather than because of performance issues or other concerns about your work), you may have suffered mental illness discrimination in the workplace.

Termination or Demotion Because of Mental Illness

Your mental illness may cause challenges to crop up that you have to deal with. For example, you may need to  miss time at work while adjusting to the side effects from a new medication–or even miss work because of the effects of that mental illness. However, you should not be terminated or demoted because you have to deal with mental health issues. If your employer does terminate you because you needed to take time to deal with mental health concerns, from medication to a day when your mental health was more challenging than usual, you may have faced discrimination.

What Should You Do When Facing Mental Health Discrimination in the Workplace?

Have you faced mental health discrimination in the workplace?

Do you suspect that you may have suffered discrimination in the workplace due to your mental health, but lack the certainty you need to move forward with a claim?

Make sure you protect yourself as soon as possible.

Document any evidence of discrimination.

Sometimes, that may mean saving emails and other office communications. Make sure you save them on a personal storage device or account, rather than just leaving them in your work email, since some employers will act fast to delete your work accounts if they have to dismiss you for any reason. Other times, you may need to write down specific instances of discrimination.

Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Whether you simply suspect possible discrimination or know that it has occurred, a lawyer can help you determine your next steps, including how to protect yourself against possible retaliation. 

Have You Faced Mental Illness Discrimination in the Workplace?

If you have faced mental illness discrimination in the workplace, an employment lawyer can help you protect your rights and even seek compensation for that discrimination. Contact Perkins Asbill, A Professional Law Corporation at 916-446-2000 to learn more.

What Is Considered Circumstantial Evidence in Discrimination Cases?

Illegal employment discrimination only rarely happens out in the open. More often, employers and supervisors try to conceal the discriminatory purpose of the adverse employment actions they take against employees and prospective employees. Rather than telling a woman she’s been let go because of her pregnancy, they come up with excuses about downsizing and poor performance reviews. Instead of saying they don’t want a trans person waiting on customers, they cast a job reassignment as taking advantage of that person’s “strengths”. 

Employees often know they’ve been targeted by illegal discrimination, but worry that without direct evidence of discriminatory intent, they might not succeed in making a claim for damages. That’s an understandable concern, but it’s misplaced. As experienced employment discrimination lawyers know, most claims rely heavily on circumstantial evidence as proof of illegal discrimination.

In this blog post, we take a closer look at what constitutes circumstantial evidence of illegal employment discrimination, and how lawyers can use it to build a strong case.

Circumstantial Evidence Overview

Let’s start with some basic concepts. Evidence consists of any unit of information a lawyer can use to prove a fact in court. The law generally recognizes two categories of evidence: direct and circumstantial. 

  • Direct evidence proves a fact in and of itself, without the need to draw an inference. Looking outside and seeing rain falling is direct evidence that it is raining outside. 
  • Circumstantial evidence proves a fact by supporting a reasonable inference of that fact. Looking outside and seeing wet pavement and people carrying open umbrellas is circumstantial evidence that it’s raining outside. 

We rely on circumstantial evidence to make reasonable inferences about facts constantly in our everyday lives. And yet, there’s a popular misconception that circumstantial evidence is somehow less convincing than direct evidence, and that a case built on circumstantial evidence is inherently weak. But, that’s simply not true. In the hands of a skilled lawyer, circumstantial evidence can be just as compelling as direct evidence. Just about every winning case relies on circumstantial evidence in some form or fashion. 

Common Circumstantial Evidence of Illegal Employment Discrimination

Employment discrimination cases rarely rely primarily on direct evidence, such as that an employer stated an explicit discriminatory intent out loud or in writing. It might happen on occasion, but it’s not the norm — which is why you should never assume that a lack of direct evidence means you have not been discriminated against.

Instead, we tend to know that discrimination has happened in the workplace by observing circumstances, environments, and behaviors, and then drawing reasonable inferences from them. Here are just a few examples of what circumstantial evidence supporting an inference of illegal discrimination at work might look like. 

Disparate Treatment

A pattern of unequal or different treatment affecting an individual or group of similar individuals in a workplace can reflect illegal discrimination. For example:

  • An office where qualified Asian employees consistently get passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified non-Asians. 
  • A fast food chain that routinely assigns white employees to the order counter, and people of color to the kitchen.
  • A boss who only ever seems to work with attractive young women who flirt with him.  
  • Male and female employees with identical jobs and seniority receiving unequal pay.  

Perhaps these practices have innocent explanations. However, reasonable people might also infer from them that the person responsible for the disparities in treatment had a discriminatory intent. 

Suspicious Timing of Adverse Employment Actions

We might also infer discriminatory intent from the timing of an adverse employment action, in relation to when an employer learns something about an employee.  An unfortunately common example of this is when a female employee loses her job or a job opportunity soon after her employer learns she’s pregnant. Other examples might include a hiring manager revoking an employment offer after meeting a minority job applicant face to face for the first time, or an employee’s impending promotion getting put on hold days after he brings his husband to a work party for the first time. 

Weak Explanations for Adverse Employment Actions

Employers do not necessarily need an objectively good reason to take adverse employment action against an employee. However, whatever reason they do have, it cannot be a discriminatory one. Sometimes, an employer’s seeming inability to give a clear, understandable, rational, or consistent explanation for a decision that adversely affects an employee can support an inference of discriminatory intent. Minority job applicants might reasonably infer discriminatory intent, for example, from hearing multiple, contradictory explanations for being turned down for a position for which they’re qualified. 

Problematic Workplace Norms and Cultures

Harassment that creates a hostile work environment can itself constitute a form of illegal discrimination. However, a lawyer does not necessarily need to prove harassment for evidence of problematic workplace norms and cultures to support a reasonable inference of an employer having acted with discriminatory intent. An officewide expectation that employees should not speak of or call attention to their religious beliefs at work, for example, could support an inference of discrimination against an employee who observes religious dress or grooming practices.

How Lawyers Use Circumstantial Evidence to Build a Case for Employment Discrimination

Experienced employment discrimination lawyers understand that most cases they pursue on behalf of employees rely heavily, and sometimes exclusively, on just the sort of circumstantial evidence described above. A lack of direct evidence does not bother them. They trust that judges and jurors can recognize discrimination when presented with its telltale signs. 

Lawyers also know that the circumstantial evidence they know about at the beginning of a case might well represent the tip of the iceberg. Through the process of civil discovery, lawyers can often accumulate more circumstantial evidence until the inference of discriminatory intent against their client becomes simply overwhelming. On occasion, lawyers can also deploy circumstantial evidence as a means of uncovering direct evidence of discrimination. For example, in a deposition, a skilled trial lawyer might confront a manager with circumstantial evidence in hopes the manager will admit to having received instructions to discriminate against one or more employees. 

In other words, employees who believe they have suffered harm from illegal discrimination at work need not, and should not, wait until they have direct evidence in hand before speaking with a lawyer. Circumstantial evidence is enough to get a case started, and often, to win it as well. 

If you have circumstantial evidence of illegal discrimination at your work, contact the skilled employment litigation attorneys at Perkins Asbill today or call us at 916-446-2000 to speak with a member of our team. 

How to Recognize and Combat Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Across the world, over 1 billion people are currently living with some form of disability. The World Health Organization reports this number is increasing every single day. Unfortunately, people with disabilities don’t just face everyday challenges related to their disability, often, they are subject to workplace discrimination. If you believe you or someone you love has been the victim of workplace discrimination due to a disability, contact Perkins Asbill at 916-446-2000 to talk to one of our legal professionals. 

What is disability discrimination?

On July 26, 1990, President George W. Bush signed the Americans with Disability Act. The law mandates people with disabilities enjoy the same rights as other Americans in terms of employment, purchase of goods, and participation in state and local services. The ADA defines a person as disabled if they have a physical or mental disability that “substantially limits one or more major life activities,” they have a history of such a disability, or if they are perceived to have a protected disability. 

Under the law, employers cannot discriminate against a person because of their disability. This law applies to persons applying for a job and those who already hold a position. If an employer violates the Americans with Disabilities act, they may be subject to an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and civil damages.

Examples of disability discrimination in the workplace

Disability discrimination comes in many forms. In some cases, it may be obvious what your employer is doing is wrong. Other times, they may use tactics to make it appear they are doing the right thing or have no other choice. This is why it is extremely important you understand what disability discrimination looks like. Examples of discrimination include:

Failure to hire, promote, or train based on disability

An employer does not have to hire you just because you have a disability. If another applicant is more qualified for the position, the hiring manager has the right to choose that person. However, if the only distinguishing factor between you and the other applicant is your disability, the employer may be guilty of disability discrimination. The same applies to promotions and training in the workplace. If your employer passes you over for a promotion you are qualified for or fails to provide training offered to other employees, you may have an ADA claim. 

Failure to make accommodations

Just because you have a disability, that does not mean you are not able to do the same job as other employees every day. It may just mean you need a little assistance. If you have a disability, the law requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations to allow you to continue at your job. This may include:

  • Modifications to the workplace or equipment
  • Reduced work schedule
  • Job restructuring
  • Other adaptive devices or services

An employer must provide accommodations unless they can show it would provide an undue hardship. If your employer refuses to work with you to find a reasonable accommodation, contact a workplace disability discrimination attorney. 

Termination, demotion, or loss of pay due to disability

It is not an employer’s job to determine whether you can no longer do a job because of a disability. Although California is an at-will state, this law does not allow your employer to fire you just because of a disability. Additionally, they cannot demote you, cut your hours, or reduce your pay because of a disability. 

Harassment

Most employers know they are not allowed to fire someone because of a disability. Unfortunately, many turn to harassment, bullying, or embarrassment to try to get around the law. This is illegal. An employer cannot intimidate you or try to make you uncomfortable in an effort to try to get you to leave your position. Further, they cannot ask you about your medical records or have you take a medical exam to stay in your position. Harassment comes in many forms, and sadly, some employers think they can get away with it. You have rights. If you believe your employer is harassing you because of your disability, contact a disability discrimination attorney. 

What to do if you believe you are the victim of disability discrimination

While the law protects persons with disabilities, there is a very specific process you must go through to defend your rights. These rules are in place to make sure you get the help you need and to ensure the employer has the opportunity to remedy the situation. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination, you must go through the following steps:

  1. Report your concerns to your internal HR department: The first step is to let upper management and human resources know what is going on. In some cases, they may genuinely believe a reassignment or reduced hours is what you want. In this case, there may be an easy fix, and you can come to a mutual agreement. 
  2. File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: If your employer is unwilling or unable to work with you, the next step is to file an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC investigates all complaints related to disability discrimination. The EEOC will set up an interview with you to understand what happened and discuss the next steps moving forward. Do not skip this step; you must file a complaint before you can file a lawsuit against your employer. 
  3. Contact a workplace discrimination attorney: disability discrimination is illegal. If your employer violates the ADA, you may be eligible for lost pay, your old job back, and other damages. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and help you pursue your case. 

Know your rights

Disability discrimination is wrong. At Perkins Asbill, we aggressively fight for our clients to help them get the justice they deserve. If you believe you are the victim of disability discrimination, don’t wait. The law allows you a limited time to file a complaint and pursue legal damages. Contact Perkins Asbill at 916-446-2000 or fill out an online request to learn more about your case. 

8 Things Employees and Employers Need to Know About Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Most Sacramento-area businesses and their workers generally understand that religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal. They may not, however, have full knowledge of the scope of the protections laws and regulations afford to religious practices in connection with employment, and what types of decisions and conduct might constitute religious discrimination at work. 

Here are 8 things every Sacramento employer and employee should know about illegal religious discrimination in the workplace. 

The Law Contains Robust Protections for Religious Beliefs and Practices

California’s principal civil rights laws, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and regulations promulgated under it, and equivalent provisions of federal law, contain broad, powerful provisions protecting employees against religious discrimination at work, and barring businesses from engaging in religious discrimination against customers and others. The law’s protection of religious beliefs and practices (often referred-to as a person’s “religious creed”) has historically deep roots that, to this day, reflect the founding principles of the country and of communities throughout the state. 

The Protections Apply to All Religions and Religious Practices, Not Just Major Faiths 

Californians hold an extraordinarily diverse range of religious beliefs. Civil rights laws aim to protect all of them, major religions and obscure sects alike.

Regulations adopted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to implement FEHA explain that a “religious creed” protected under civil rights law consists of:

any traditionally recognized religion as well as beliefs, observances, or practices, which an individual sincerely holds and which occupy in his or her life a place of importance parallel to that of traditionally recognized religions. It encompasses all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice, including religious dress and grooming practices. 

Most Employment Actions Motivated By Religion Amount to Illegal Discrimination

Any employment action affecting a job applicant or employee, which is motivated by that person’s religious beliefs or practices, or lack thereof, constitutes illegal discrimination under FEHA. Examples include: 

  • Refusing to hire someone because of the religious beliefs they hold or do not hold. 
  • Taking religious beliefs into account when deciding which employees to promote, or how much to pay them. 
  • Firing, demoting, or taking similar adverse action against an employee because of that employee’s religiously-observant attire. 
  • Permitting a workplace environment that subjects an employee to mockery or criticism of that employee’s religious beliefs. 
  • Preventing an employee from working in a job involving contact with customers or the public because of that employee’s religious grooming practices.
  • Segregating employees, or allocating their work responsibilities, according to their religious beliefs.  

These are just a few examples of the wide array of religiously-motivated job actions that can amount to illegal discrimination. As a general rule, any action a Sacramento employer or supervisor takes that has religion as its motivating factor risks violating FEHA and federal law. 

Failure to Make Reasonable Accommodation for Religion Also Constitutes Illegal Discrimination

Avoiding the types of overt discriminatory actions listed above amounts to just part of an employer’s obligations under civil rights laws. An employer must also make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices. Under DFEH regulations

A reasonable accommodation is one that eliminates the conflict between the religious practice and the job requirement and may include, but is not limited to, job restructuring, job reassignment, modification of work practices, or allowing time off in an amount equal to the amount of non-regularly scheduled time the employee has worked in order to avoid a conflict with his or her religious observances

California law and regulations expressly provide, for example, that reasonable accommodations include: 

  • Scheduling interviews, examinations, and other functions related to employment opportunities to work around times of religious observance, such religious holidays or days of rest. 
  • Allowing employees time to travel to and from religious services or observances.
  • Permitting employees to observe religious dress and grooming standards, including wearing of garments, head coverings, jewelry, and facial hair. 
  • Permitting employees to opt out of union membership and/or union dues when religious belief prohibits them.

Making hiring or firing decisions to avoid having to provide reasonable accommodation of religion, or retaliating against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation, also amounts to illegal discrimination. 

The Law Applies Not Just to Employees, But Also Apprentices and Interns

In many California job sectors, such as entertainment, law, marketing, manufacturing, and building trades, apprenticeships and internships offer Californians just starting out in the workforce valuable opportunities to gain experience and to lay the foundation for a career.  Some of these positions come with a modest salary, but many are unpaid. 

Neither the age, experience level, job duration, nor pay status of an apprentice or intern matters, however, when it comes to right to be free from religious discrimination. California civil rights laws expressly shield apprentices and interns from illegal religious discrimination to the same degree as full-fledged employees. 

Independent Contractors Also Enjoy Religious Discrimination Protections

Working for a California business as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee, does not amount to sacrificing your rights, either. California civil rights law protects independent contractors from religious discrimination in two ways:

  • FEHA expressly outlaws harassment of independent contractors on the basis of their religious creed. 
  • A separate law, called the Unruh Civil Rights Act, guarantees all Californians, no matter their religion, “full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever”.

Most, But Not All, Religious Entities Are Exempt From Religious Discrimination Rules

State and federal law generally exempts religious organizations and associations, including churches, mosques, and synagogues, from religious discrimination rules.  However, a private, for-profit religious entity may not necessarily enjoy the same exemption, even if it is controlled by an exempt religious institution.  

For example, a church hiring a new youth minister can usually take applicants’ religious beliefs into account in making its selection. However, that church’s separately-incorporated, for-profit, book publishing company may not have the right to discriminate on the basis of religion when screening applicants for an editorial position. 

In addition, religious entities may also face liability for other forms of discriminatory conduct. This is an area of law that routinely stirs controversy, because of the tendency for religious organizations to raise objections on religious freedom grounds whenever a new law aims to regulate their conduct. 

Victims of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace Can Take Legal Action For Damages

Californians subjected to religious discrimination at work often have the right to sue their employers and the individuals who discriminated against them.

A successful religious discrimination lawsuit may achieve an award of money damages that include back-pay, front-pay, lost benefits, and compensation for lost promotions or job opportunities. The law also permits courts to order job reinstatement and other non-monetary relief, and to direct the employer to pay the victimized employee’s attorney fees and costs. 

If you are an employee or leader of a Sacramento-area business, and you have questions about how religious discrimination laws apply to you, then contact Perkins Asbill online or call 916-446-2000 to speak with an experienced business and employment attorney.