What are the Protected Classes in Employment Law?

two employees working

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces many federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on protected classes. When discrimination cases arise, employees can file a claim against their employer to receive compensation for a company’s wrongdoing. Our California employment law attorneys explain what classes an employer can’t discriminate against.

Protected Classes Under Employment Law

Workplace discrimination occurs when an individual is discriminated against for any number of reasons. For example, an employer is legally prohibited from refusing to hire a candidate because their spouse is disabled, and the employer believes the candidate’s caregiving responsibility will affect their work performance. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or giving unfair treatment because of the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • National origin
  • Age (40 years or older)
  • Disability or genetic information

Employment discrimination can be seen in a wide variety of situations, including, but not limited to:

  • An employer suggesting that they prefer younger candidates in job advertisements
  • An employer excluding hiring candidates during recruitment
  • Denying employee compensation or benefits for discriminatory reasons
  • Paying equally qualified employees in the same position different salaries
  • Discriminating against employees when giving promotions or lay-offs

Other Protected Classes Under FEHA

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects public and private labor organizations and employment agencies. Under the FEHA, it is illegal for employers of five or more employees to discriminate against job applicants and employees because of a protected category or retaliate against them because they have asserted their rights under the law.

FEHA also requires employers to:

  1. Reasonably accommodate an employee or job applicant’s religious beliefs and practices
  2. Reasonably accommodate employees or job applicants, with a disability, to enable them to perform the essential functions of a job
  3. Provide up to four months leave to employees due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition
  4. Provide reasonable accommodations requested by an employee, on the advice of her health care provider, related to her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

What Should I Do If I've Been Discriminated Against?

If you are facing discrimination in the workplace, you have rights that protect you. At Polaris Law Group, we have over 25 years of experience helping workers with their legal employment issues. Our team can review your unique situation and help you determine the best course of action for your case. No employee deserves to be discriminated against in their place of work. We can help you file a claim to get compensation and prevent the same from happening to another worker.

Call our Monterey County employment law attorneys at (888) 796-4010 or contact us online to schedule a case review!

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