Proving Discrimination in the California Workplace

April 26, 2019 Rager & Yoon Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace can make every day spent at work a horrific experience. However, proving workplace discrimination can be a daunting task because the employee must provide proof that the employer acted with an illegal intention, such as failing to promote the employee due to the employee’s sex, race or ethnicity, for example. The “at-will” employment status of California workers further complicates proving discrimination in the workplace.

At Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, our Los Angeles discrimination attorneys work hard to preserve the rights of working people who experience unfair labor practices. If you have been discriminated against by an employer, reach out to our compassionate and knowledgeable team to discuss your legal rights and options under the law.

At-Will Employment

Most employees in California are classified as “at-will” employees. This means that they can be terminated from their jobs at any time and for any reason—with two exceptions being illegal retaliation and discrimination. This gives unprincipled employers a comparatively simple means to give a legitimate explanation for the adverse action taken against an employee that leads to termination, even if there is an illegal motive underlying the action.

Circumstantial Evidence in Discrimination Cases

Given that employees can be summarily dismissed from their posts under the guise of “poor performance” or some infraction of office policy, proving that termination or other adverse action is due to a protected status is difficult. Employers and managers obviously have a vested interest in not admitting the true reason behind an illegal firing. It is often circumstantial evidence in cases like these that provide the glue for a claim against the employer. And the more evidence you can collect, the stronger your chance of winning your case.

Circumstantial evidence to prove an illegal motive on your employers’ behalf can take on many faces. If you are terminated for conduct that others engage without penalty, this may provide an argument for discrimination. For instance, five employees, including one woman and four men, are often latecomers to the office. The woman is terminated due to excessive tardiness; the men are only reprimanded with a written warning. This might be construed as discrimination based on gender, a protected status.

Evidence that the employer lied about the reason for firing an employee can also be useful in a discrimination case. For example, if a manager terminates a worker because he observed the worker screaming at a client, but both the client and the employee state that it never happened, then the employer is obviously lying about the reason for termination. In this instance, the question becomes “why did the employer lie, if not to cover up an illegal motivation?”

Employers who fail to follow their own guidelines for investigating employee misconduct may also inadvertently provide evidence of discrimination. If the employer’s policy is to interview witnesses into a harassment complaint, but they fail to do so, it raises questions about why the policy wasn’t followed.

We Want to Help

As you can see, proving discrimination can mean jumping through a few hoops. Luckily, Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers and our Los Angles discrimination attorney have the expertise needed to tackle the toughest discrimination cases for our hard-working clients. Contact us now at 310-527-6994 to set up a free case review to discuss the particulars of your situation.

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