Employment discrimination happens in many ways, some of which may not be obvious or intentional. For example, an employer doesn’t usually decide to overlook a person for promotion because of race, gender, or other protected characteristic. However, certain acts can constitute unlawful discrimination because of their effect, regardless of the motivation for these acts.

Employers can begin to protect themselves by understanding discrimination, taking steps to avoid situations that would inspire lawsuits and by knowing how to handle complaints when they do arise.

This section thoroughly explores employment discrimination as defined by both federal and state anti-discrimination laws, including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • The California Fair Pay Act
  • Other state and federal protections

This section is designed to help you recognize and avoid unlawful discrimination in your workplace. It will discuss what constitutes discrimination under the law, who is protected and on what specific basis, i.e., the numerous protected characteristics/classes detailed in the law. Also, you’ll read about how these laws are enforced and who is held liable for acts of discrimination. In addition to commonly recognized employment discrimination laws, this section discusses other, less widely known state and federal protections against discrimination and retaliation.

In addition to protection from discrimination, both federal and state laws protect employees and applicants from employer retaliation for engaging in activity that's protected by anti-discrimination laws, such as opposing harassment or unlawful discrimination, or for filing a complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing. This section will discuss the specifics of retaliation, including its legal meaning, protected activities, whistleblower protections, and best practices for preventing retaliation.

Harassment discusses sexual harassment and workplace harassment in general. Disabilities discusses disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).