It is unlawful for any employer to harass an employee because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation. The laws protecting employees from discrimination and harassment fall into multiple categories.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Action, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees have a multitude of potential claims, including: wrongful termination by either actual and constructive discharge; refusal to hire, promote, offer bonuses, raises, or benefits; retaliation for complaints of discrimination or harassment; failure to provide a reasonable accommodation based upon disability or medical condition; and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or retaliation.
In addition, wrongful termination claims based upon race and gender find direct constitutional support in our State Constitution (Rojo claims). In particular, claims for wrongful termination based upon marriage and familial status and false light claims may be brought under Article I, section 1 of the California Constitution.
Under the FMLA, employees can assert claims for wrongful termination, even when the termination is disguised as a reduction-in-force, targeted discharge, refusal to offer leave benefits, or other adverse employment action.
In addition to state and federal statutes and constitutional claims, California courts have carved out various wrongful termination claims based upon public policy, referred to as Tameny claims.
The courtroom is not the only venue for employment-related claims. Employees may bring administrative claims under the authority of the California DFEH or the U.S. EEOC. Wage and hour and benefits claims may be brought and adjudicated by the CA Labor Commission. Discrimination claims against a government contractor may be brought in the OFCCP, and worker’s compensation retaliatory claims under section 132(a) may be prosecuted administratively as well.