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Racial Discrimination

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Racial Discrimination Lawyers in California

Racial discrimination has been an issue for as long as time. To combat this, state and federal governments have passed laws that protect employees from racial discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, these laws have not put an end to racial discrimination in the workplace; however, they do provide victims with protection.

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of this act prohibits employers from discriminating based on race as well as color, national origin, religion,
and sex.

In California, the anti-discrimination statute is called the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under this act, employers are prohibited from discriminating based on race as well as color, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, military and veteran status, etc. California’s FEHA offers more protections than its federal counterpart, Title VII.

(Note: These acts apply to public employers, private employers, labor organizations, and
employment agencies.)

 

Race Discrimination Under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminated against an employee, or applicant for employment, because he or she is part of a protected class. This means that employers cannot discriminate against an employee based on their race, color, national origin, or ancestry. The FEHA applies to employers of five or more employees, labor organizations, and employment agencies.

There are two types of discrimination cases; disparate treatment and disparate impact.

What is Disparate Treatment for Racial Discrimination Under FEHA?

Disparate treatment is one type of discrimination. It means that the discrimination was intentionally. This usually means that the discrimination was apparent on its face (i.e. an employment policy which explicitly discriminates against a racial group).

To establish disability treatment, a plaintiff has the burden to prove:

1. The defendant was an employer or some other covered entity;
2. The plaintiff is/was an employee of the defendant, or that the plaintiff applied for a job with the defendant;
3. The defendant subjected the plaintiff to some adverse employment action (i.e. fired, refused to hire, demoted, etc.).
4. The plaintiff’s race, color, ancestry, or national origin was a substantial
motivating reason for the adverse employment action;
5. The plaintiff suffered a harm; and
6. The defendant’s actions were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.

If the plaintiff succeeds in proving these things at trial, there is a presumption of discrimination. To rebut this presumption, the burden shifts to the defendant to produce evidence of a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If the defendant is successful, then the presumption of discrimination is broken. However, the plaintiff is given an opportunity to present evidence showing that the defendant’s alleged reason is not true and is merely pretext for discrimination. It is then up to the jury to decide whom they believe, the plaintiff or the defendant.

What is Disparate Impact for Racial Discrimination Under FEHA?

Disparate impact is another type of discrimination. It means that the discrimination was unintentional. This usually means that the discrimination was NOT apparent on its face (i.e. an employment policy which does NOT explicitly discriminate against a racial group but has an indirect negative effect on a racial group).
To establish disability impact, a plaintiff has the burden to prove:

1. The defendant was an employer or some other covered entity;
2. The plaintiff is/was an employee of the defendant, or that the plaintiff applied for a job with the defendant;
3. The defendant had an employment practice or a selection policy that had a disproportionately adverse effect on a racial group;
4. The plaintiff is part of that racial group;
5. The plaintiff was harmed;
6. The defendant’s employment practice or selection policy was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.

If the plaintiff is successful, the defendant must then provide evidence that any given requirement would have a manifest relationship to the employment in question. If the defendant is successful, the plaintiff may still prevail if he shows that the employer was using the practice as a mere pretext for discrimination.

What Do I Do If I Believe I Have Been Discriminated Against for My Race?

Under the FEHA, an employee generally has one-year from the last incident to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to have the DFEH investigate claims of discrimination or to obtain a right-to-sue letter.

If you believe you have been discriminated against due to race, color, ancestry, or national origin you should contact an attorney to file a claim with the DFEH as soon as possible to ensure you do not run out of time.

Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 for Racial Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against an employee, or applicant for employment, based on religion, race, color, national origin, or sex. Title VII applies to employers of fifteen (15) or more employees as well as employment agencies and labor organizations.

Title VII also classifies discrimination into two types: disparate treatment and disparate impact.

What is Disparate Treatment Under for Racial Discrimination Title VII?

Disparate treatment is one type of discrimination. It means that the discrimination was intentional. This usually means that the discrimination was apparent on its face (i.e. an employment policy which explicitly discriminates against Muslims, Jewish people, Buddhists, Christians, etc.).

To establish disability treatment, a plaintiff initially has the burden to prove:

1. The plaintiff is part of a protected class (i.e. Muslim, Jewish, etc.);
2. The plaintiff was qualified for the job they held or the job they were applying for;
3. Despite the qualification, the plaintiff was fired, not hired, or suffered some other
adverse employment action; and
4. The position remains open or was given to someone not of the same religion.

If the plaintiff succeeds in proving these things at trial, there is a presumption of discrimination. To rebut this presumption, the burden shifts to the defendant to produce evidence of a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If the defendant is successful, then the presumption of discrimination is broken. However, the plaintiff is given an opportunity to present evidence showing that the defendant’s alleged reason is not true and is merely pretext for discrimination. It is then up to the jury to decide whom they believe, the plaintiff or the defendant.

What is Disparate Impact for Racial Discrimination Under Title VII?

Disparate impact is another type of discrimination. It means that the discrimination was unintentional. This usually means that the discrimination was NOT apparent on its face (i.e. an employment policy which does NOT explicitly discriminate based on religion but has an indirect negative effect on employees of the religion).

Establishing disparate impact under Title VII is a bit more difficult than under the FEHA. Under federal law, there is no set test to determine disparate impact. Each claim is decided on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant’s policies or practices have a disproportionately adverse effect on a protected group. The defendant can generally defend themselves by presenting evidence that the policy or procedure is for a legitimate business purpose. If the defendant is successful, the plaintiff has an opportunity to provide evidence that the defendant refuses to adopt a policy that would satisfy the same business purpose but is less adverse.

What Do I Do If I Believe I Have Been Discriminated Against?

Under Title VII an employee generally has 180 days from the last incident to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In states like California that time frame is expanded to 300 days. After a charge is filled with the EEOC, the agency will investigate the incident and decide whether there is enough evidence for them to pursue the matter for the employee. If the EEOC does not believe there is enough evidence for them to pursue the matter, they will give the employee a “right to sue” letter allowing the employee to sue the employer in federal court.

If you believe you have been discriminated against based on religion, you should contact an attorney to file a charge with the EEOC as soon as possible to ensure you do not run out of time.

Differences Between FEHA & Title VII for Race Discrimination

Although mostly similar, the FEHA and Title VII have some material differences. Some of the differences are listed below.

  • The FEHA applies to employers who employ 5 or more employees; unlike Title
    VII which requires 15 or more employees.
  • The FEHA is enforced by the DFEH; whereas Title VII is enforced by the EEOC.
  • The FEHA generally has a one-year time frame to file a claim or request a right to sue letter from the DFEH; whereas Title VII has a 180 time frame to file with the EEOC (unless the issue is brought in a state which extends the time frame to 300 days, like California).
  • The FEHA does not have a cap on damage awards; whereas Title VII does place a cap on awards.
  •  The FEHA is much broader and offers more protections than Title VII.

For these reasons, it is generally more beneficial for plaintiffs to bring a suit under the FEHA in California.

Have You Been Suffering from Racial Discrimination?

If you believe you may be suffering from racial discrimination, there is no need to face it on your own. Our attorneys at KAASS Law help the public with all types of employment law cases. Get in touch with us now for assistance. We will make sure your rights are fully protected!

Contact Our Racial Discrimination Lawyers in California Now!

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Phone: (310) 943-1171

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