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Employment Discrimination Law

Employment discrimination law refers to federal and state laws that prohibit employers from treating workers differently based on certain attributes unrelated to job performance. Discrimination by government employers violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Discrimination by private employers may conflict with any number of statutory protections, most notably, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 


Federal Discrimination Law vs. State Discrimination Law


There are a number of applicable laws in both the federal and the state systems.  Employees can bring an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or in California, under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the FEHA.  Certain differences may exist between the federal and state system, however, the gist of both laws are to protect employees from being unlawfully discriminated based on a protected category.

Protected Categories


Under FEHA, which usually offers employees greater protection and relief, an employer is not allowed to discriminate an employee based on:


  • Age

  • Ancestry

  • Color

  • Religious Creed

  • Family and Medical Care Leave

  • Disability

  • Marital Status

  • Medical Condition

  • Genetic Information

  • Military and Veteran Status

  • National Origin

  • Race

  • Sex

  • Gender (Gender Identity and Gender Expression)

  • Sexual Orientation.

If an employer discriminates or harasses an employee for reasons stemming from any of the above categories, the employee may be able to bring a suit against the employer based on FEHA.

Statute of Limitations

Under FEHA, an employee wishing to bring suit against an employer must file a compliant with the DFEH within three years from the date of the alleged discriminatory act.  Thus, anyone with a discrimination claim should not delay taking action.

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