California Racial Discrimination Alleged by Utility Employees

California racial discrimination at utility workplaces is the basis for a new employment lawsuit filed by two former employees.California racial discrimination lawsuit

According to ABC-7 News, the two plaintiffs – both attorneys – alleged that despite being in one of the most diverse regions of the state, the company’s legal department hasn’t hired a minority candidate in more than 16 years. It hasn’t hired an African American candidate in more than 22 years, they say.

Plaintiff one said she’d worked at the company nearly two decades when the second plaintiff, a Black woman, interviewed for a position in the company’s legal department. Despite being unanimously ranked as the No. 1 candidate for the position, she was passed over for the job. That prompted the longtime employee to file an internal complaint alleging racial discrimination.

About a year later, the prospective employee was invited to apply again. This time, she was hired. However, during her time at the company, she alleges she was subject to a significant degree of racial discrimination. Among her examples:

  • She was given a heavier work load than other, similarly-situated employees who were white.
  • She was denied equal opportunity to attend training and other employment benefits.
  • She was not given an office, as similarly-situated white colleagues were.
  • Her office supplies came from the junk drawer or even garbage bin, while white employees were given permission to order new supplies.

The impact, she said, was being denied the basic ability to do her job.

Several months later, she filed a racial discrimination complaint against a supervisor. The supervisor, in turn, alleged plaintiff had a conflict because she was a member of the Black Employee Network. She said it felt as if keeping her job meant constantly reassuring her boss that she was not an “adversarial, angry, Black woman.”

An internal investigation into the supervisor’s conduct found “unconscious racial bias” toward the plaintiff, but did not find there had been any violation of the utility company’s policies. Plaintiff soon after resigned, saying she was essentially not given a choice.

In a statement released in response to the litigation, the utility company denies its employees engaged in racial discrimination. However, an independent cultural survey commissioned by the company two years ago found “multiple instance of institutional and personal bias” against employees who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinix, and Asian.

Examples of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that nearly one-third of discrimination complaints are race-based. It’s the second most common reason for filing a workplace discrimination complaint, after retaliation.

As our Riverside employment lawyers can explain, racial discrimination doesn’t look the same in every workplace.

Some examples can include:

  • Refusing to hire a prospective worker because of their race.
  • Disciplining or firing an employee on the basis of race.
  • Offering an employee lower compensation on the basis of their race.
  • Segregating or separating employees and applicants based on their racial background.
  • Failing to provide equal pay, benefits, promotions, or other work opportunities to an employee on the basis of their race.
  • Failing to intervene when there is race-based harassment or discrimination taking place on-the-job.

If you are subjected to racial discrimination at work in Southern California, our Riverside employment law firm can help.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Two former East Bay MUD employees allege discrimination, April 4, 2022, By Melanie Woodrow, ABC-7 News

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