Types of Workplace Discrimination in California With Examples (2024)

Although it is illegal, workplace discrimination still happens, and when it does, it can take a serious toll on employees’ careers and personal lives. California, like many other states, has enacted a number of laws to protect employees from unlawful discrimination based on certain characteristics or personal traits. It’s important to understand the many types of workplace discrimination in California.

What Is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination refers to the illegal act of treating a worker differently due to one or more characteristics, including race, gender, age, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. For example, if a company refuses to hire a job applicant simply because of their race or later declines to promote them for the same reason. Another example is if someone’s salary is reduced or they are fired due to their age.

While universal rules apply to everyone, these cases raise the question of whether these decisions are based on people’s characteristics. If so, and if those characteristics are protected by the law, then they constitute discrimination. Prohibiting employment discrimination is a critical goal of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), a comprehensive statute designed to provide broad protections.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

There are several forms of discrimination that employees might face, including:

  • Racial Discrimination: This includes treatment based on race or ethnicity that’s less favorable than that of others.
  • Gender Discrimination: When any employees are treated unjustly simply because of their gender. (For example, paying women less than men, having different standards for male and female managers, or even sexual harassment.)
  • Age Discrimination: This includes treatment based on age (whether it is because they are older or younger) that’s less favorable than that of others.
  • Disability Discrimination: Includes denying jobs or promotions, refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation, making offensive remarks, harassing or firing someone due to their physical or mental disability.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: Involves treating certain pregnant or childbearing individuals differently from others in similar situations.

Seeking Justice for Workplace Discrimination: The Legal Process

Filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit involves several steps:

  • Filing a Complaint: Submit a complaint to the DFEH, which will investigate your claim. At any point during this process, the DFEH can offer its own preferred resolution to try to end the dispute. Otherwise, if the investigation isn’t settled through mediation, it proceeds.
  • Right to Sue: If the DFEH feels there is sufficient evidence of discrimination, it will issue you a ‘Right to Sue’ notice that frees you to proceed with a lawsuit.
  • Lawsuit: You file a lawsuit claiming discrimination, and your attorney will assist you in proving your case in court.

Psychological Effects of Discrimination

Employees subjected to discrimination as a result of their national origin may experience considerable stress and anxiety. When employees are subjected to discrimination, they may be afraid of future attacks. This kind of fear could turn into chronic stress and eventually cause one experiencing this chronic stress to develop disorders such as depression or anxiety disorder. These problems also could exacerbate an employee’s physical health issues.

Decreased Job Satisfaction and Productivity

Workplace discrimination can affect an employee’s general fulfillment of performing their job. If an employee feels that he or she is underappreciated, mistreated, or slandered, motivation and engagement can diminish.

This lack of motivation can sometimes lead to lower productivity, poor work quality, or higher instances of absenteeism. Over an extensive period, the quality of work and morale within the work environment can be affected, and a toxic workplace can be created.

Social Isolation and Lack of Support

Victims of workplace discrimination can be socially isolated. They may disconnect from their colleagues. They feel excluded from social support in the workplace. This social isolation can exacerbate helpless feelings in individuals and make it harder for them to cope with the problem.


Q: What Is Considered Workplace Discrimination in California?

A: Employment discrimination is an illegal practice in the State of California that includes discriminatory treatment in the workplace based on a person’s protected classes, which can include their race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

These types of discrimination can infringe on rights in almost every aspect of employment, such as an interview for a job, promotions, pay, job assignment, or termination, which goes against California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Q: What Are the Four Types of Discrimination in the Workplace?

A: The four main types of workplace discrimination are racial discrimination, gender discrimination, age discrimination, and disability discrimination.

Unfair treatment of an employee or group of employees on the grounds of race, gender, age, disability, or some other characteristic that directly impacts their terms and conditions of employment and/or their opportunities at work is illegal.

Q: How Do I Prove Discrimination at Work in California?

A: If you’re considering bringing a claim for discrimination at work in California, gathering evidence is essential. Compile any helpful information that backs up your claim, like emails, witness statements, performance reviews, or reports showing unfair treatment. It is also important to show a pattern of discriminatory behavior tied to one of your protected traits.

Q: What Is the Burden of Proof for Workplace Discrimination?

A: The burden of proving means that the employee must prove that discrimination or ill-treatment was a substantial or significant factor in the adverse employment action. They must be able to prove (with evidence) that if not for their protected trait, he or she would not have been treated adversely.

Workplace discrimination is a serious issue that affects many employees in California. Understanding your rights and the legal remedies available is the first step toward seeking justice. If you believe you have been discriminated against, it is essential to document the incidents, report them, and consult with an experienced workplace discrimination attorney.

Contact Asbill Law Group

At Asbill Law Group, we are committed to protecting the rights of employees and ensuring that justice is served. If you are facing workplace discrimination, contact us today for a consultation and let us help you navigate the legal process to secure the compensation and justice you deserve.