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How to tell if you are protected from workplace discrimination

Many of our readers in California know that state and federal laws exist that protect workers from discrimination in the workplace, but some do not know how to tell if those laws actually apply to them, or to any potentially discriminatory conduct they may have encountered in the workplace. Knowing those basics can help California workers protect their rights.

For starters, it is important to understand that many employment law protections apply not just to those who are actively employed, but to those who are applicants for employment as well. Just as employers are prohibited from engaging in discriminatory conduct toward employees, employers are also prohibited by law from engaging in discriminatory conduct when it comes to people who are applying to seek employment.

So, what is discriminatory conduct? Well, some instances of such conduct are easier to see and define than others, but, essentially, it is any conduct by an employer which places an employee or applicant at a disadvantage due to certain protected factors. Under federal law, these include: race; age; religion; gender; national origin; and disability. California state law and some local ordinances may include other protected factors such as sexual orientation. If, for example, California residents can prove that a potential employer did not hire them because of their race, or another protected factor, that may be the basis for a valid claim of workplace discrimination.

Anyone in California who has been the victim of workplace discrimination, whatever the basis, may need to get more information about their legal options. In some cases, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may need to get involved to investigate the claim.

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