Election Season Brings Employment Discrimination to the Forefront and News Headlines

With the election season in full swing, one common topic that keeps making national headlines is Donald Trump’s alleged employment discrimination against women. For instance, there have been allegations that Trump only wanted the pretty young women for certain positions in his company. That is both sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) as well as age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) and FEHA. Allegedly, when Trump would visit his Rancho Palos Verdes (suburb of Los Angeles) Trump National Golf Club golf course, the managers would schedule the young pretty women to work since if Trump saw any unattractive women he would request that they be fired. In court documents, former hostesses of the club restaurant also claimed that they were fired when they complained about age discrimination. This is considered retaliation and is investigated for pattern and practice by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

FEHA prohibits retaliation against anyone who opposed unlawful activity such as unwelcome sexual advances, sexual harassment or discrimination, filed a complaint regarding such conduct, or testified or assisted in proceedings under FEHA. “Retaliation” is defined as engaging in a protected activity, such as the three examples above, that you were subjected to a negative employment action (such as demotion or firing, withholding of benefits, verbal or physical abuse) due to that protected activity, and you suffered damages. Last year, California law was updated to require employers to modify and strengthen their sexual harassment and discrimination prevention training. Now, every supervisor must to take the two hour training every two years if he or she works for a company that has more than 50 workers.  See other updates in our dedicated retaliation blog page.

Complaints of unlawful sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”). Upon their investigation, DFEH may cite the employer and/or grant a Right to Sue letter. Title VII and California’s FEHA prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee who belongs to a “protected class.” Under Title VII, it is unlawful for employers to take negative action, or discriminate, against individuals in their compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of their race, color, religion, sex/gender, or national origin. Similarly, under FEHA, an employer may not, because of the gender of a person, treat that person differently in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. (Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(a).) One item in which the two laws differ is that Title VII applies to employers who employ at least 15 individuals in a year, while FEHA applies to California employers with at least five employees in a year. Moreover, California recently passed laws expanding this reach even more to enable more lawsuits to be filed against smaller employers by allowing those working in other states and those on medical leave to count towards the five employee threshold.

If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to sex or gender discrimination, age discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital since the laws have strict deadlines to file a complaint. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.