Anti-Discrimination Laws in California: A Review

In this and the blogs to come, we’ll be discussing building a company culture that is mindful of the LGBTQIA+ employees and unfortunately a part of that conversation is protecting these employees from discrimination. While all employees should be treated equally, we know that historically this has not been the case. Therefore it’s essential to review the anti-discrimination laws that protect all employees, including those who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Federal anti-discrimination laws

  1. Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, and nationality.
  2. American Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination of people with mental and/or physical disabilities. What constitutes as a disability is different in each state and therefore it is important to review.
  3. Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits different rates of pay between gender for the same work.
  4. Age Discrimination Act prohibits age-related discrimination
  5. Genetic Discrimination Act of 2008 prohibits using a person’s genetic history as a qualifier for making hiring and firing decisions

Note, there is no federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation BUT California does offer protections.

CA protections for LGBTQIA+ workers

  1. Gender, gender identity, and gender expression: employers are prohibited from discriminating employees based on these factors. Remember that gender identity is a person’s internal understanding of their gender alignment, and gender expression is a person’s public presentation of their gender identity.*
  2. Sexual orientation: In the state of CA employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation.

Important to note

  1. Failure to prevent discrimination: In CA, if an employer becomes aware of discrimination against an employee, they are obligated to not only put a stop to it but also to take measures against it from occurring again.
  2. Harassment: The CA Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers from harassing workers for their sexual orientation (as well as race, gender religion, etc) and extends to management staff and colleagues as well.

Thoroughly understanding the rights of employees is one of the most important responsibilities of employers, and whenever we discuss matters of company culture, benefits, etc., these rights should always be top-of-mind. There is no such thing as an inclusive and productive team environment if everyone on that team is not equally protected from harassment and discrimination. Employers first step in addressing discriminatory acts is to stop it, and then implement preventative measures.

If you’re looking to get started on building an inclusive culture within your company, Eos HR can help! We make sure small business employers have the resources they need to lead a productive and inclusive workplace. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

*If you wish to review terminology, please visit our blog that offers useful definitions: Starting the Dialogue for an Inclusive Culture:  Terminology