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Discrimination Attorneys

Unlawful discrimination takes many forms. In the United States, individuals are protected from discrimination not only in the workplace but also in matters related to housing and access to public accommodations (such as restaurants, stores, or government buildings). California has numerous laws designed to prohibit or punish discriminatory practices. There are also similar federal laws and laws in other states. 

If you recently experienced discrimination at work, in your housing, or in public accommodations, an experienced discrimination attorney can explain your options for defending your rights. Please contact one of our experienced civil rights lawyers today to learn more about how we may be able to help. We are committed to helping individuals combat discrimination and hold entities accountable when they violate the law. 

Discrimination in the Workplace

Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to a negative employment action because of a characteristic such as race, age, religion, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. The negative action can include being fired or demoted, being denied a job, raise, promotion or equal pay, or being forced to quit. These behaviors often harm not only the employee or potential employee involved but also the entire company and its other employees by creating a culture where discrimination is tolerated. We understand how devastating discrimination at work can be, and we are highly experienced in successfully resolving discrimination claims on behalf of our clients. 

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.

Examples of discrimination in the workplace include:

  • Offering a lower wage to certain employees based on a protected characteristic;
  • Denying an applicant a job because of his or her race, national origin, sex, religion, or color; 
  • Terminating someone’s employment for based on their membership in a protected class; 
  • Denying the opportunity for a pay raise or career advancement to an employee because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; and
  • Harassing employees because of a protected characteristic. 

While these blatant discriminatory actions are clearly unlawful, the law also prohibits the use of more subversive or less obvious forms of discrimination. It is unlawful, for example, for an employer to create a job policy that has a negative impact on the employability of those of a certain race if that policy is not necessary for the business’s successful operation. 

Discrimination in Housing

Federal and California law prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale, or financing of housing based on a protected characteristic, including sex, race, religion, familial status, disability, and pregnancy. These prohibitions apply to real estate companies and landlords, as well as lending institutions, homeowner’s insurance companies, cities, and banks. If any of these individuals or entities are found to have discriminated against someone because of a protected characteristic, they can be held accountable under the law. Common examples of housing-related discrimination include:

  • Providing applicants with false information about the availability of housing;
  • Asserting that zoning laws prohibit the use of a private home as a place of worship;
  • Denying housing or imposing special conditions on tenants with children;
  • Refusing to accommodate a tenant’s disability; and
  • Implementing stricter underwriting standards on financing for certain borrowers. 

For help with your own fair housing claim, please contact our legal team today. 

Discrimination in Public Accommodations

Everyone should have an equal right to enjoy public spaces. There are laws that protect individuals from discrimination when they are accessing public places like restaurants, apartment complexes, hotels, and mass transit stations. If a business or government entity denies such access based on a protected characteristic, they may be violating the law.   

In addition, it is illegal for businesses or the government to deny physical access to public accommodations, which means that they must take steps to equip their premises with widened doorways and wheelchair ramps to permit access to individuals with physical disabilities. In fact, this standard even applies to websites, which must provide access to those with hearing and sight impairments. 

Schedule an Initial Consultation Today

The attorneys at Olivier & Schreiber LLP have significant experience litigating a wide range of civil rights claims. If you have questions about discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations, please do not hesitate to call or contact us online today. 


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