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San Diego Employment Discrimination Attorney

Employment discrimination and harassment can make for long, gruesome days at work. Let us help you get back on track if you've experienced employment discrimination in San Diego.

Employment Discrimination In San Diego

No one expects to have to deal with discrimination or harassment, but unfortunately some employers and co-workers choose to break the law. When you have experienced discriminatory or harassing treatment in the workplace, it can severely impair your ability to lead a normal life. Fortunately, the experienced attorneys at Walker Law are here to help if you live in the San Diego area. If you or a loved one has been harassed or discriminated against, call Walker Law so we can help immediately.

How We Approach Employment Discrimination Claims In San Diego

Discrimination and harassment occurs when an employee, applicant, or individual has experienced unfair or unsavory treatment in the workplace because based on the following:
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Ethnic identity/heritage
  • Nationality
  • Citizenship status
  • Arrest record/criminal conviction history
  • Political activities outside of the workplace
  • Marital status
  • Military service
  • Medical history or use of tobacco products
  • Weight
  • Bankruptcy or bad debts
  • Role as a caregiver for a family member with a disability or other health problems

Sometimes the workplace discrimination or harassment happens covertly through unfair treatment. In other instances, the discrimination or harassment happens openly, even in front of witnesses. If the discrimination or harassment was perpetrated by a co-worker, the employer can be held liable if the employee notified the employer.

San Diego Employment Discrimination and Harassment Claims We Handle

At Walker Law, we can help with many types of employment discrimination claims in the San Diego area.

  • An employer failed to hire or promote you in favor of another candidate who is less qualified than you are.
  • You were given unequal compensation or work conditions.
  • You experienced unfair application of rules by supervisors or coworkers or were illegally terminated.
  • You were faced with verbal slurs, offensive jokes, derogatory comments or conduct that relates to your race/ethnicity, disability, or gender.
If you believe that you or a family member has experienced these or similar events in the workplace, it is essential that you obtain solid legal representation from the specialist discrimination and harassment attorneys at Walker Law. Contact us today to discuss your workplace discrimination and harassment case during a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Discrimination In San Diego

Employment discrimination in San Diego can occur without your knowledge. To help you better understand it, we've put together a list of questions to get you started.

What is employment discrimination in San Diego?

Discrimination is where an individual is treated differently or unequally as compared to others due to one or more protected characteristics.

Employment discrimination can be experienced during hiring, promotion, training, job assignment, termination, or compensation, or can be in retaliation or in relation to wages, benefits or various types of harassment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the body responsible for enforcing federal laws that protect individuals against discrimination in the workplace.

While federal laws state that all U.S. employers of 15 or more employees must adhere to EEOC laws, in California this law is more stringent, applying anti-discrimination laws to all employers with 5 or more employees. This is with the following three exceptions:

  • Age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • Citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees)
  • Equal pay for men and women (all employers)

What types of discrimination claims in San Diego can I bring?

In all 50 U.S. states, Employment Discrimination laws protect employees from discrimination based on an individual’s:

  • Race
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Physical disability
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Genetic information
  • Citizen status

In addition to the grounds above, California state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity and Gender Expression
  • Aids/HIV
  • Medical Condition
  • Political Activities or Affiliations
  • Military or Veteran Status
  • Status as a Victim of Domestic Violence, Assault, or Stalking

In addition to it being illegal to discriminate on the grounds of one of the characteristics listed above, it is also illegal to discriminate against an individual because they have:

  • Lodged a complaint about discrimination
  • Filed a charge of discrimination
  • Participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit

I don't have direct evidence against my employer. How do I use circumstantial evidence to show that my employer discriminated against me?

First, let us define what direct evidence and circumstantial evidence is.

Direct evidence can include statements by either managers or supervisors that directly link to the action taken according to the protected class.

An example would be where an employee is fired due to being over 40, with the manager stating that the company wants a younger brand image. In this instance, the evidence might be in the form of verbal statements, or in written documents (a memo, for example).

In the majority of cases employees have little chance of having direct evidence against an employer, so it usually falls to circumstantial evidence to prove a case.

The following examples may be cases where there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to bring a case:

  • The employee was treated differently than a similarly situated person who is not in the protected class
  • Managers and/or supervisors regularly made derogatory comments about the employee’s protected class status, or directed these comments to all members of the class
  • The employee’s treatment was so unusual, egregious, unjust, or severe that it suggests discrimination
  • There are notably fewer employees of a protected class at the workplace
  • The employer retained less qualified, non-protected employees in the same role
  • The employer has a track record of showing bias against a person in the protected class
  • Employees of a protected class appear to either be singled out for poor treatment or are placed in menial positions
  • Multiple employees in a protected class have previously complained about discrimination
  • Statistics demonstrate favoritism towards another group, or bias against a protected group
  • A long-established company policy was violated in the employee’s treatment

What if my San Diego employer denies discriminating against me?

If your case reaches court, rather than being settled beforehand, it is to be expected that your employer will deny discriminating against you. In court, your employer has the right to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the action taken against you. If their reason is deemed illegitimate you will have proven discrimination.

However, an employer, in most instances, will provide a legitimate reason. Should this happen, the burden is on you to offer additional evidence.

What can I do if my employer's reason is a cover-up for discriminating against me?

If your employer provides a reason for the action taken, you will then be required to prove that it is either pretext or a cover up. This could be demonstrated by showing:

  • The stated reason is inadequate to have led to a discharge
  • The stated reason is problematic that your employer cannot legitimately rely on it
  • Your protected status is more likely to have been the reason for the action, than the stated reason
  • The stated reason is factually false
  • That there is compelling direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination

What evidence is needed to prove my employer intentionally discriminated against me?

Proving that you’ve been the victim of discrimination in the workplace requires approximately the same amount of evidence regardless as to what characteristics the employer is alleged to have discriminated against.

Step 1: Stating the employee’s position
First, the employee must demonstrate:

  • That they are a member of a “protected class” AND;
  • That they suffered an “adverse employment action”

Step 2: The employer’s response – their position
In response, the employer is required to provide a legitimate reason as to why the adverse employment action took place. Let’s take an example…

A black male employee states that he was dismissed due to his race. In return, the employer states that they were restructuring due to strained financial circumstances. This would be considered a legitimate reason.

Step 3: Proving pretext
During the third stage the employee must then demonstrate that the employer’s reason is not legitimate, and that their response is “pretext”.
Continuing with our example, the employee may demonstrate that his job role wasn’t eliminated by proving that on the same day or shortly after, the employer undertook interviews for the same position.

Step 4: Proving discrimination
In the past, the example above would have been sufficient to prove discrimination. However, following a number of court cases the law now dictates that the employee must provide demonstrable proof as to the discrimination in the workplace – thus, simply proving that the given reason is not legitimate is no longer enough.

A note on pretext
In the case of Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products Inc., the plaintiff’s burden of proving discrimination was alleviated. Previous to this, if the employee proved discrimination, the employer could then demonstrate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the action. Following this, the employee would then have to prove pretext that the genuine reason behind the action was discriminatory.

This test case simplified the process for the plaintiff. Now, they simply need to prove the employer’s explanation was pretext.

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