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Disability a leading cause of discrimination in California

Disability discrimination cases topped the list of employment discrimination cases brought to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in 2012 according to a report issued by that civil rights agency. However, looking ahead to the coming year, it anticipates a rise in the number of discrimination cases related to gender as well as gender expression and identity.

The DFEH, which enforces laws against discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing, released its annual report for 2012. Of the nearly 20,000 employment discrimination cases, over 13,000 were for disability discrimination. Discrimination based on race or color accounted for almost 7,000 cases, while just over 6,000 were sexual harassment cases.

Disability discrimination complaints also saw some of the largest increases the previous year, according to the DFEH. While many people think of those with mobility issues when they picture victims of disability discrimination, the data shows that people face such discrimination in the workplace for a variety of reasons. The Council for Disability Awareness found that in 2012, the most common "disabilities" among those filing new discrimination claims were connective tissue and musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, poisoning and injuries, mental disorders and cardiovascular/circulatory disorders.

As we noted, the DFEH report predicts a rise in discrimination cases based on matters of gender and how people express it. That's because they are now protected categories covered under state law and by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. The FEHA now lists "Gender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression" as a class protected from "harassment or discrimination in employment." New amendments to state laws regarding pregnancy and family leave are also expected to bring more cases involving these issues.

As we have discussed before, California law offers employment protections that other states, and in some cases the federal government, do not. However, that doesn't mean that all employers know the law or follow it. Those who take action against employers who unlawfully discriminate against applicants and employees can not only gain justice for themselves, but help save others from the same discriminatory treatment.

Source: Business Management Daily, "California’s DFEH report highlights coming discrimination trends" No author given, Mar. 27, 2014

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