San Francisco Civil Rights Lawyers

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San Francisco Civil Rights Lawyers

When a person’s civil rights are infringed upon or denied because of that individual’s membership in a particular group, he or she could have the standing to file a discrimination claim. For instance, a number of state and federal laws bar employers from discriminating against applicants and employees because of their race, sex, or religion, and when these rights are violated, the wronged parties have legal recourse. Similar protections apply to those with disabilities, individuals who are over the age of 40 years old, and pregnant women.  Businesses are similarly prevented from discriminating in housing and services.

Unfortunately, filing these types of claims can be complicated, so if you were recently discriminated against at work, in a public space, while attempting to secure housing, or while trying to access public accommodations, it is important to contact San Francisco civil rights lawyers who can advise you about your legal options.

Employment Discrimination

Unlawful workplace discrimination can occur based upon an employer’s unequal treatment of an employee based upon the employee’s actual or perceived membership in one or more of the following categories:

  • Race or National Origin: It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of their race, color, ancestry, or national origin. The law protects employees from being terminated, being denied promotional opportunities, or otherwise being treated less favorably, based on their race or national origin.
  • Gender or Sex: The law prohibits discrimination against an employee based on sex or gender, including hiring, promotion, pay, treatment on the job, and termination.
  • Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault: It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. An employee who has experienced such conduct also has the right to take time off work to protect their health, safety, and welfare.
  • Sexual Orientation: It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to their sexual orientation, actual or perceived.
  • Gender Identity or Gender Expression: California law prohibits discrimination against an employee based on their gender expression or gender identity, including transgender status.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination against women because they are pregnant, or because they intend to take or have taken leave for pregnancy or baby bonding.
  • Disability: It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of their physical or mental disability, even if the disability is temporary. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and must have good faith discussions with disabled employees to determine what accommodations are needed.
  • Age Discrimination: The law protects workers who are 40 years of age and over from discrimination in hiring and at work.
  • Religious Discrimination: It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees because of their religion. Employers must accommodate religious beliefs and observances where reasonably possible and without undue hardship.
  • Military or Veteran Status: California law protects veterans and those who have served in the military from discrimination in the workplace or in hiring.
  • Political Affiliation or Activity: It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s political beliefs, party affiliation, or political activities.

These categories are protected from discrimination under federal and/or state laws.

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, for example, protects employees from being discriminated against at work or during the hiring process because of their race, national origin, color, religion, or sex. This prohibition applies not only to obvious forms of discrimination, such as making derogatory comments or using racial slurs, but also to more subversive behavior, including creating policies that are not work-related, but that negatively impact certain groups of people. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) similarly prevents such discrimination.

Those who have faced this type of discrimination in the workplace have a couple of different options when it comes to holding their employers accountable, including filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  After these agency filings, an employee experiencing discrimination may elect to sue their employer in court or in arbitration.

Discrimination in Housing

Landlords, property owners, and lenders are also prohibited from discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin when selling or renting a property, or otherwise engaging in real estate transactions or lending services. These protections were expanded even further in 1973 with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits housing discrimination against individuals with disabilities. In 1995, housing protections were also extended to the elderly. There are also strong laws on the books in California preventing discrimination in housing.

Discrimination in Education

Another federal civil rights law, Title IX, which was passed as part of the Education Amendments in 1972, offers similar protections from discrimination based on sex in educational settings. These protections apply to educational programs, as well as campus employment, admissions, housing, and extracurricular activities.  If you were discriminated against or harassed because of your sex while attending a school that receives federal funding, it is important to speak with an experienced civil rights lawyer about filing a Title IX claim.  California has similar protections for students who have experienced sex discrimination or harassment.

Public Accommodations

Discrimination on the basis of disability is also strictly prohibited under federal and state law, which requires those who offer public accommodations, including restaurants, recreation facilities, doctor’s offices, and movie theaters, to comply with certain standards in the construction of their establishments. This includes ensuring that buildings are accessible by providing access to wheelchair ramps, elevators, and widened doorways, as well as offering technical assistance to those who require it and allowing service animals onto the premises.

San Francisco Civil Rights Lawyers

If you have questions about litigating a discrimination claim, please call the experienced civil rights lawyers at Olivier & Schreiber LLP to learn more about your legal options.


(415) 484-0980


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