• If you have been discriminated against on the job
  • If you have been denied housing based on your status
  • Call us for a free consultation; we’ll explain your rights
  • You could receive compensatory damages, punitive damages and an award of your costs and attorneys fees

The two most common types of discrimination occur with respect to employment and housing. At the Law Offices of Galen Gentry we are committed to standing up for the rights of victims of employment and housing discrimination. We represent individuals in Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, greater Los Angeles and throughout Southern California.

Employment Discrimination Claims in California–What You Need To Win

When employees are treated badly and suspect it is due to discrimination they may wish to sue. To win the plaintiff has the burden of showing that he or she was a member of a protected class and the employer’s action was serious and discriminatory.  Here are the four guidelines to help you determine if you have a viable claim.

1. Have You Suffered From A Serious Adverse Employment Action?

Getting fired, not hired, demoted, passed over, given poor assignments, not given good assignments, paid less for the same work all these things happen in the workplace. To be the basis for a discrimination suit the employer’s actions must be related to the employee’s status in a protected class (race or gender for example), the adverse treatment must be substantial and detrimental and “reasonably likely to impair an employee’s job performance or prospects for advancement.” This means that minor things, while unfair, are generally not enough for a suit. If your boss criticizes your work, plays favorites, or has unreasonable demands these factors will not usually support a discrimination lawsuit.

2.  Are You A Member of A Protected Class?

Both federal and state laws prohibit an employer from discriminating against individuals based on race, religion, color, national origin, disability, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, and pregnancy.

3. Can You Prove The Discrimination?

Direct evidence is the easiest way to show that discrimination occurred. Direct evidence of discrimination includes statements by supervisors, managers or other witnesses that directly go to the heart of the issue. For example, if the boss tells a coworker that Employee Smith won’t be getting the promotion because she is a woman, or Employee Green is being fired because he is gay, then the plaintiff has a straight forward case.

Most discrimination cases are circumstantial.  The likelihood of success can only be determined on a case by case basis after consultation with an attorney.  Here is a hypothetical case in which the claimant may be able to initiate her suit.  A terminated employee alleges he or she was 1) a member of a protected class 2) that the employee was qualified for the position 3) the employer took an adverse action against the employee by firing him or her, and 4) the employee was replaced by a person who was not in the protected class.

4. In A Circumstantial Case Your Employer May Try To Show That Its Actions Were Not Discriminatory

An employer has the opportunity to offer a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. The employee must then show the proffered reasons are a pretext; just a cover for unlawful discrimination. This is difficult. Sometimes the plaintiff can show that the legitimate reasons offered by the employer are factually defective.  Continuing our example from above assume the employer states that the employee was constantly late. During the case the employee’s time sheets show that the employee was punctual. The law requires the plaintiff to show not only that the stated reason is false but also that adverse action was due at least in part to discrimination.

The Law Does Not Have A Remedy For Every Wrong

When people are treated poorly they react emotionally, but discrimination cases can be very hard to win. The plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that plaintiff was a member of a protected class, the adverse employment action occurred as a result of plaintiff being a member of the class. The adverse employment action was serious and there was no legitimate, non-discriminatory explanation for the employer’s behavior.

If you believe you were discharged or suffered another type of adverse employment action arising out of one of the protected factors set out above call us for a free consultation without obligation.

California Law 

The California Legislature has declared that discrimination in housing is against the public policy of the State of California.  The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code section 12900 et seq., specifically prohibits employment and housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, disability, or source of income. The Unruh Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51 prohibits discrimination in “all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” This provision has been interpreted to include businesses and persons engaged in the sale or rental of housing accommodations.                   

While the Unruh Act specifically prohibits only discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, or disability, its language, unlike the FEHA’s, has been judicially and statutorily construed to apply to arbitrary discrimination based on personal traits, beliefs, or characteristics similar to those specifically listed.  The Act, for example, has been held to prohibit discrimination against families with children and against persons based upon their sexual orientation or their age.

Your Remedies for Discrimination

Remedies available in private actions brought to enforce your rights depend upon whether your claim is brought pursuant to the Unruh Act or the FEHA. Remedies available in private Unruh Act suits include actual damages, a penalty of up to three times the amount of actual damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees. Remedies available in private FEHA actions, or in a civil trial elected in lieu of an administrative hearing before the FEHC, include actual, compensatory, and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees if you are represented by private counsel rather than by the DFEH.