What is a “Protected Class” in Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit?

In order to be successful in claiming employment discrimination in California, employees must first assert they are part of a protected class that received unfair treatment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains that to discriminate means to treat someone less favorably and disparately, with federal protections extending to individuals on the basis of gender, religion, color, race, national origin, disability or age (over 40). In California, unlawful practices spelled out by the Fair Employment and Housing Act 12940 outlines protections for these classes, but also for:

  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Gender identity/gender expression
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military or veteran statusemployment discrimination attorney Los Angeles

Part of the reason California’s additional protected classes matter is they go farther than federal law, giving unfairly-treated employees more options to pursue action.

As Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys can explain, “protected classes” aren’t merely limited to minorities. But employment discrimination is often subtle – and doesn’t necessarily need to actually be a part of a protected class in order to be protected. Discrimination based on the perception of belonging or association with others in these classes can be actionable in California employment discrimination cases too.

Perceived Protected Class Employment Discrimination

For instance, KTLA 5 News reported on a $17.4 million verdict won in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles sanitation worker who was falsely perceived as gay. The harassment he allegedly endured included taunts amounting to verbal abuse, hazing and bullying – including a photoshopped image of him and a male subordinate that was disseminated to other city employees. The city’s supervisor was reportedly informed of the incident and failed to take action. The damage award was later reduced, but the verdict in the worker’s favor stood.

This same sort of issue can arise in cases where employers may “perceive association” with race because of one’s style of hair or dress.

And speaking of hair, a recent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal inĀ EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, held that “hair bias,” wherein employers have discriminated against either the natural hair or braids traditionally worn by those of African descent can be cause to assert a case of racial employment discrimination. California lawmakers recently introducedĀ Senate Bill 188, which if passed would add “hair style and hair texture” to the list of protected characteristics employers cannot use as an excuse for discrimination. Our Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys wrote about this in a recent racial employment discrimination blog.

What Does Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Look Like?

Employment discrimination can take numerous forms. These can include:

  • Declining to hire or refusing to employ
  • Refusal to select an employer for an advantageous training program
  • Terminating, transferring or forcing an employee to resign
  • Providing disparate pay, benefits and upward mobility options
  • Declining to provide reasonable accommodation (for pregnancy, disability, prayer, etc.)
  • Refusing to hire someone of a protected class/perceived association with it
  • Demotion
  • Harassment

Employment discrimination pertains to employers, but also to labor unions and other organizations. They cannot restrict, suspend or expel membership on the basis of a protected class.

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

Additional Resources:

What is Employment Discrimination? U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

More Blog Entries:

Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation: California Labor Law Breach is Disability Discrimination, Feb. 15, 2018, Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer Blog