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Since the late 1980s, there has been a revitalization of the downtown area and substantial job growth in Santa Monica. Top employers there include the city, the UCLA medical center, Saint John's Health Center, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Universal Music Group, Lionsgate Entertainment, the RAND Corporation, and Activision. Workplace discrimination and harassment are unfortunately common in Santa Monica and elsewhere in Los Angeles County. Generally, discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics such as race, sex, and religion are prohibited. If you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment based on your membership in a protected group, the Santa Monica employment lawyers at the Calderone Law Firm can fight for you to recover damages. Our firm handles all types of discrimination and harassment, as well as violations of wage and hour laws and the Family and Medical Leave Act.Asserting Your Interests in an Employment Dispute
It is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of certain protected characteristics under federal and state laws. Federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act also protects people who are disabled by a medical condition as well as pregnant or laboring women under certain circumstances. However, in most cases, California's primary anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), provides greater protections.
FEHA applies to employers with at least five employees, while federal laws only apply to employers that are medium-sized or large. To bring a lawsuit under Title VII or the ADA, for example, your employer must have at least 15 employees. Moreover, the remedies under FEHA are usually stronger than they are under federal law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) governs a number of federal laws, all of which cap compensatory and punitive damages based on the size of the employer. An employment attorney can counsel Santa Monica employees on which laws might best support their claim and maximize their remedies.
FEHA protects the following characteristics: disability, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, military or veteran status, and age if you are over 40. If an employer takes an adverse action against you based on your having one of these protected characteristics, rather than your performance, you may have a claim under FEHA. For example, if you are terminated by a new manager who does not want to offer you a reasonable accommodation to seek medical care for AIDS, you may have a disability-based claim under FEHA. For another example, if you are Muslim and are being harassed and called a "terrorist" by coworkers, but when you complain to your boss, he takes no action, you may have a claim for religious discrimination and harassment under FEHA.
One of the most common forms of harassment is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be quid pro quo harassment, in which an authority figure offers to let you keep your job or to promote you or refrain from firing you if you submit to sexual misconduct. Alternatively, if your work environment is made hostile, offensive, or intimidating due to your sex, a Santa Monica employment attorney can help you bring a claim for hostile work environment harassment. Similarly, you may have a hostile work environment claim if you are harassed due to your religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, or ethnicity. One-off or trivial incidents are not likely to constitute a hostile work environment. Usually, plaintiffs who are successful in their hostile work environment claims experience a very severe episode of harassment, or the harassment is pervasive.
Damages that you may be able to recover if your FEHA claim is successful include back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, and injunctive relief. When discrimination or harassment is egregious, it may also be appropriate to request punitive damages.Consult an Employment Lawyer in Santa Monica or Surrounding Areas
If you are facing workplace discrimination or harassment in Santa Monica, the experienced attorneys at the Calderone Law Firm may be able to provide legal advice and representation. Federal and state laws differ, and it is crucial to retain an attorney who can help you pursue your claim through the avenue that is best able to give you a strong chance for justice. Call the Calderone Law Firm at (424) 348-8290 or contact us through our online form.