Wednesday, July 17, 2013

About California’s Sex Discrimination Law

Employees, regardless of their sex, must be equally treated in the workplace. However, there are instances wherein employers find it difficult to maintain such equal opportunity, as well as avoid any acts that are deemed discriminatory and, thus, illegal under the prevailing federal and state employment statutes. For instance, there are cases wherein immediate superiors subject their employees to sexual harassment. 

There are also cases wherein employers refused a qualified female applicant a job opening just because she is pregnant. Worse, the case of unequal pay and compensation still rages on in most workplaces despite the prevailing federal law that makes it a requirement for covered employers to provide equal pay for men and women in the same workplace. These instances are what we all refer to as sex discrimination.

According to California sex discrimination attorneys, it is a type of workplace prejudice which involves treating an applicant or an employee unfavorably because of that person’s sex. It also describes the less preferential treatment of a certain individual because of his or her connection with an organization or group that is associated with people of a certain sex. Under the prevailing federal and California employment laws, employers operating in the state are prohibited to discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of sex in any aspect of employment, from hiring, termination, to any other employment term or condition.

Various federal and California laws forbidding sex discrimination

The State of California protects individuals from sex discrimination, thanks to a variety of federal and state employment and labor laws. One of them is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under this state statute, covered employers with five or more employees are forbidden to discriminate, harass, or retaliate against employees and/or applicants on the basis of their sex.

Like the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (amended via the Pregnancy Discrimination Act), the FEHA’s definition of “sex” also prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of one’s pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. This means that employers cannot subject female applicants or employees to discrimination, especially in the hiring process and termination just because she is pregnant, or has given birth to her newborn, among other instances. In addition, the FEHA further expanded the definition of “sex” to include breastfeeding.

According to a sex discrimination attorney in Los Angeles, California, employers covered by the FEHA cannot also discriminate, harass, or retaliate against employees or applicants just because of his or her gender identity and gender expression. For instance, an employer cannot refuse a transgender applicant a job just because he or she wears clothing that is not on par with his or her biological sex. Recent legislations in California clarified this broad classification, which included gender identity and expression under FEHA’s “sex” definition.

Moreover, under both Title VII and the FEHA, employers are prohibited from sexually harassing employees or applicants. Such conduct is classified under sex discrimination, and they may include sexually offensive and obscene jokes, slurs, and unwanted physical contact. There are others, however, in which the harasser’s comment or statement towards the victim is not sexual in nature, especially if it pertains to that person’s sex or general perception of his or her sex. Sexual harassment only occurs if the conduct is severe or pervasive, and is done persistently enough to result in a hostile and abusive working environment, which may lead to a tangible change in one’s employment benefits or status.

Furthermore, the federal Equal Pay Act prohibits sex discrimination, this time on the basis of one’s pay and compensation. Under said law, men and women working in the same workplace must be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs of both genders must be substantially equal but not necessarily identical. The law covers all forms of compensation and pay, from salary, overtime, bonuses, insurance, vacation and holiday pay, and other benefits.

Seeking legal action with a sex discrimination lawyer

Nobody wants to be sexually harassed or discriminated against in employment on the basis of your sex. But if you are being targeted continuously by your co-worker or immediate superior because of it, then it is a must that you exercise your rights immediately to stop sex discrimination and harassment once and for all. If your complaint with your employer’s human resources department yielded no results, you may consult with one of the best California sex discrimination attorneys to help you establish your claim against your employer.