California is an at-will employment state, meaning employers can fire workers for a good, bad or even arbitrary cause. However, they cannot terminate employees for illegal reasons.
Workers in the Golden State are protected by state and federal laws, including California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Worker protections against discrimination
Under the FEHA, employees cannot be fired or suffer adverse employment action under these protected categories:
- Race or color
- National origin or ancestry
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender, gender expression or gender identity
- Medical condition, including pregnancy
- Physical or mental disability
- Genetic information
- Military service or status
Top 10 discrimination EEOC claims
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing enforces FEHA rules, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws. In 2019, the EEOC released the most common types of discrimination claims:
- Retaliation: 53.8%
- Disability: 33.4%
- Race: 33%
- Sex: 32.4%
- Age: 21.4%
- National origin: 9.6%
- Color: 4.7%
- Religion: 3.7%
- Equal pay: 1.5%
- Genetic information: 0.3%
The most common claim of employer retaliation typically involves one or more types of discrimination.
Take immediate action over workplace discrimination
If you were fired, demoted, denied a promotion or raise or suffered any adverse consequences by your employer under any of the protected status categories, it’s advisable to contact an experienced employment law attorney.
The process can be complex, and time limits exist to file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agencies. Knowledgeable attorneys can successfully navigate complicated labor laws and take action to help you receive compensation for an employer’s illegal behavior.