Even in the “modern age,” discrimination and harassment against employees still regularly occur in the workplace. We understand how discrimination and harassment impact the lives of employees, often making the jobs they once loved into an everyday nightmare. Many employees face discrimination and harassment for some time before they are actually terminated or forced to resign. The experienced lawyers at Azadian Law Group, PC fight employers aggressively to make sure they secure the maximum recovery for victims of discrimination and harassment.
The award winning Los Angeles employment lawyers at the Azadian Law Group are dedicated to protecting employee rights and have successfully represented health-care professionals, financial executives, and a wide variety of other employees in discrimination and harassment lawsuits.
Many people falsely believe that because it is the 21st century, workplace discrimination and harassment no longer occurs. But as we at the Azadian Law Group, PC find on a daily basis, discrimination can – and does – happen, and it can present itself in many different forms, including:
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An employee who complains about discrimination or harassment in the workplace cannot be retaliated against due to his or her complaints. Sometimes employees make these complaints directly to their supervisors or to human resources. While it is a good idea to generally make these complaints in writing after speaking with an employment lawyer, the law protects complaints that as a whole appear to oppose illegal discrimination regardless of whether specific terms are used. See Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc., 2 Cal. App. 5th 1028, 1046-47 (2016) (“An employee is not required to use legal terms or buzzwords when opposing discrimination. The court will find opposing activity if the employee’s comments, when reading in their totality, oppose discrimination. . . . FEHA does not protect only the impudent or articulate.”)
Such retaliation is often proven by the fact that the employee is terminated shortly after he or she complains. See Scotch v. Art Inst. of California-Orange County, Inc., 173 Cal. App. 4th 986, 1020 (2009) (“Close proximity in time of an adverse action . . . is often strong evidence of a retaliatory motive.”); see also Morgan v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 88 Cal. App. 4th 52, 69-70 (2000) (“The retaliatory [or discriminatory] motive is proved by showing that Plaintiff engaged in protected activities, that his employer was aware of the protected activities, and that the adverse action followed within a relatively short time thereafter.”)
In today’s work environment, discrimination is often very subtle but can be proven. If you believe that you have been the target of discrimination at work, the first step you should take is to speak with an employment attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC. Our team of accomplished employment law attorneys will walk you through the information you need to document to prove your case and protect you from harm.
During our consultation, we will also advise you of all and any documentation you have, which will help prove that you have been discriminated against. This may include performance reviews, communications regarding requests for medical leave, and complaints about unfair treatment or violations of equal rights in the workplace.
We first attempt to determine why the employer had it out for you and whether that motive was illegal. We then move on to attacking the employer’s stated reason for your termination. By showing the employer’s reasons to be false or weak, we show that the real reason for the action against you was illegal discrimination. See Hersant v. Department of Social Services, 57 Cal. App. 4th 997, 1005 (1997) (retaliation and discrimination may be proved by “weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the proffered legitimate reasons” for the employees termination).
We also analyze potential employment cases to determine if the employer singled you out for an illegal reason, while not treating other employees the same. For example, were you terminated for something that other employees get away with? See Wills v. Superior Court, 194 Cal. App. 4th 312, 340 (2011) (“Showing disparate treatment or policy enforcement is a permissible means to establish pretext. . . . To establish pretext in this manner, [plaintiff] must identify other similarly situated employees the [defendant] did not terminate.”).
Another factor to consider in proving discrimination and harassment is if other employees were treated unfairly based on the same protected characteristic. For example, were other older employees forced out? Were other disabled employees discriminated against? Were other employees of that same race or religion also treated poorly? Did the manager sexually harass other employees? This concept in employment law is called “me-too” evidence because these other employees also claim they were treated unfairly for the same illegal reason. See Pantoja v. Anton, 198 Cal. App. 4th 87, 115 (2011) (reversing defense verdict and holding that “the trial court abused its discretion when it excluded the me-too evidence” despite the fact that the “‘me too’ evidence related to harassing activity that occurred outside the plaintiff’s presence and at times other than when plaintiff was employed”); see also Johnson v. United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children’s Found., 173 Cal. App. 4th 740, 759 (2009) (“The challenged ‘me too’ declarations that plaintiff included in her opposition to defendant’s motion for summary judgment constitute substantial evidence requiring reversal of the judgment”); Josephs v. Pacific Bell, 443 F.3d 1050, 1064-65 (9th Cir. 2006) (earlier grievance proceedings involving similarly situated employees admissible in discrimination action); Obrey v. Johnson, 400 F.3d 691, 697 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that the district court abused its discretion when it excluded testimony of three other employees “who were prepared to testify that the [defendant] discriminated against them on the basis of race”).
If the termination occurred after an investigation, we also analyze whether that investigation was conducted in good faith, including providing you with a chance to respond to the allegations made against you. See Reeves v. Safeway Stores, 121 Cal. App. 4th 95, 119 (2004) (former employee’s evidence “raised triable issues as to the existence and effect of retaliatory motive on the part of the supervisor, and as to whether the manager and the intermediate investigator acted as tools . . . [causing] to plaintiff’s injury. . . . The evidence supports an inference that investigation of the alleged misconduct was not truly independent, but was heavily skewed” against the employee.); Cotran v. Rollins Hudig Hall Int’l, 17 Cal. 4th 93, 93-96 (1998) (“The better reasoned view, we conclude, prescribes the jury’s role as deciding whether the employer acted with a fair and honest cause or reason, regulated by good faith.”).
You can find a helpful brochure from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing regarding your rights as an employee to work in an environment free from judgment and intolerance here. You can also learn what questions an employer cannot ask during an interview by clicking here.
The Los Angeles employment lawyers at Azadian Law Group, PC provide expert advice to employees here in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. Our firm has secured millions of dollars in compensation for employees who have faced discrimination, harassment, wage and hour disputes, and who have been whistleblowers.
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