Workers who endure misconduct from their employers may feel like they have few options for seeking justice. Federal laws only go so far to protect those dealing with discrimination or harassment at work.
California has thankfully enacted statutes that better protect modern workers than the existing federal rules. Specifically, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) helps expand on the current federal discrimination protections for workers. How is FEHA different than federal regulations?
It applies to more groups of people
While there are various federal laws that protect individuals, FEHA successfully protects multiple categories of individuals. Those over the age of 40, those dealing with a medical disability and those who need unpaid leave as promised under California or federal law have protection under FEHA.
The law also protects people based on their genetics, ancestry, race, country of origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. Even marital status is a protected characteristic that should not affect your employment opportunities or lead to harassment. Recently, state lawmakers also added active-duty military personnel and veterans to the groups of those protected under FEHA.
FEHA gives employees more rights to fight back
When workers try to fight back against discriminatory or harassing behavior at work, there is often financial risk involved. Workers may worry that they will lose their jobs if they speak up or that they will lose if they try to go to court against their employer, as the business has more resources than any one employee ever could.
If they go to court and their employer wins, they could wind up saddled with the costs their employer incurred fighting back against their claim. In California, claims brought under FEHA are immune from such requirements. Even if your claim does not succeed, the courts cannot force you to pay for your employer’s legal representation.
FEHA also applies to more workplaces
Many federal laws, including those that protect against disability discrimination, require that employers have dozens of workers for the law to apply to them. In California, FEHA applies when the company has five or more workers. Additionally, harassment and discrimination are illegal even if the company has fewer than five employees.
Learning more about California employment laws like FEHA can help protect you from mistreatment at work.