California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Useful information for navigating legal challenges

Category Archives: Discrimination

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Understanding and Protecting the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Employees

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
Although the terms “transgender” and “gender identity” have already been protected classifications in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for a number of years, the State legislature saw a need to provide further clarification to alleviate continued discrimination against transgender employees, as well as employees who may not have had gender reassignment but … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues New Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation Requirements

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
This blog post was authored by Alex Polishuk On July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new enforcement guidelines on employer responsibilities with regard to pregnant employees under federal workplace laws.  The Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“Guidance”) advances the EEOC’s position that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) and the … Continue Reading

Holidays and the Workplace: Be Merry or Bah Humbug

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Workplace Policies
Back by popular demand! We are reposting this blog post in time for the holidays. The holidays are a festive time to be shared with family, friends and even co-workers.  Many employers also join in the celebrations by allowing employees to put up decorations and exchange gifts.  Employers also like to host holiday parties filled … Continue Reading

Obligations of Public Schools to Students Who Are Deaf or Hearing-Impaired: Compliance with the IDEA Does Not Necessarily Foreclose an ADA Claim

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Education
This blog entry was authored by Hengameh S. Safaei In a case of first impression, K.M. v. Tustin Unified School District, the Ninth Circuit held that a public school district’s compliance with its obligations to a deaf or hearing-impaired student under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) does not necessarily establish compliance with its effective … Continue Reading

Untimely Administrative Complaint Can Save an Agency from Liability if the Continuing Violation Doctrine Does Not Apply

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
Many agencies have had the experience of being served with a complaint of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation filed by an employee with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (“DFEH”). Filing such an administrative complaint is a prerequisite to suing in court for damages. There are deadlines associated with an employee’s ability to bring … Continue Reading

Genetic Information: A Protected Classification for the 21st Century

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Hiring, Personnel Issues, Retaliation
In the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca, the main character Vincent lives in a futuristic world where success is based on an individual’s genetic profile instead of experience or education.  Because Vincent’s genes are considered inferior, he assumes the identity of a genetically superior man in order to avoid discrimination based on his genetics.  While … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Published Important Decisions Regarding Title VII in the Nassar and Vance Cases

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
This blog entry was authored by Brian Walter and Michael D. Youril  On Monday, June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court published important decisions in two employment cases.  In Vance v. Ball State University, the Supreme Court held that for the purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII, an employee is a “supervisor” if he or she … Continue Reading

New Fair Employment and Housing Commission Regulations Impact Pregnant Employees

Posted in Disability, Discrimination
New Fair Employment and Housing Commission regulations took effect December 30, 2012 and deal with disability discrimination.  This blog post will focus on the impact of the new regulations on issues related to pregnancy and the treatment of pregnancy related conditions as disabilities.  The new regulations expand the scope of pregnancy related conditions that can … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rules: Absent Undue Hardship, Employers Must Accommodate Pregnancy Disabled Employees By Providing Additional Leave beyond the Four Months of Pregnancy Disability Leave

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
This guest post was authored by Judith S. Islas The Court of Appeal’s decision in Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., is a case of widespread importance, impacting the rights of employees disabled by pregnancy and pregnancy related-conditions.  In this case, the Court considered the plight of Anna Sanchez.  After becoming pregnant, she was diagnosed with a … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Says Attorney’s Fees to Prevailing Defendant are Mandatory in Failed Claim of Denial of Access to Disabled Persons

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Employment
It pays to read statutes carefully. Many statutes authorizing lawsuits for employment discrimination allow an award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. Almost uniformly, these statutes have been construed as authorizing an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff as a matter of course but only to a prevailing defendant when the lawsuit … Continue Reading

State Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Harris v. City of Santa Monica case

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
Harris v. City of Santa Monica has been pending before the California Supreme Court since 2011.  Melanie Poturica and I submitted an amicus brief in the matter, supporting the City’s arguments.  On December 4, 2012, the Supreme Court held oral arguments and will issue its opinion within 90 days, in 2013. In Harris, plaintiff disclosed … Continue Reading

EEOC Wastes No Time Implementing New Enforcement Goals by Cracking Down on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted in Discrimination, Personnel Issues
As part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2012-2016 (“the SEP”), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) identified the following five priorities for national enforcement in the private and federal, state and local government sectors: 1. Eliminating systemic barriers to recruitment and hiring; 2. Protecting vulnerable workecombatrs such as immigrants and migrants; 3. Targeting … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Addresses What Constitutes an Adverse Employment Action

Posted in Discrimination, Employment, Retaliation
Determining what constitutes an “adverse employment action” is critical when an employee sues for retaliation and/or discrimination.  In order to be able to sustain a claim for either retaliation or discrimination, an employee must sufficiently prove that he/she suffered an adverse employment action.  This issue was recently addressed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of … Continue Reading

EEOC Determines That Transgender Employees are Covered Under Title VII

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment
This year, in the case of Macy v. Holder, Appeal No. 0120120821 (EEOC Apr. 20, 2012), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that transgendered persons are afforded protection from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Mia Macy, a transgender police detective in Phoenix, Arizona presented as a … Continue Reading

Paid Administrative Leave And Denied Protection Of The “Blue Wall” Does Not Constitute Disparate Treatment Or Denial Of Equal Protection Under The Law

Posted in Discrimination
The “blue wall” is a phrase sometimes used to refer to an unofficial practice of police officers protecting or shielding the wrongdoing of a fellow officer.  In an interesting twist, one police officer claimed that when his department placed him on paid administrative leave and then failed to afford him the “professional courtesy” of intervening … Continue Reading

Trouble-Shooting The Hiring Process For A Public Agency

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Hiring
There are numerous signals that the U.S. economy is recovering – unemployment numbers are improving in California and elsewhere, there are mixed indications of a brighter housing market, and the stock market over the last months has improved substantially.  The overall mood may have also turned a corner, with less news of economically motivated protests, … Continue Reading

Does Discrimination Occur Against Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities?

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Personnel Issues
Balancing work and family is becoming increasingly difficult.  Workers are not only responsible for caring for their own children but many are now the primary caretakers of aging parents.  It is also not uncommon for grandparents to care for grandchildren or for an aunt or uncle to care for a niece or nephew.  The U.S. … Continue Reading

Court Finds Unlawful Intent Is Missing From Jury Instructions On Retaliation, But Is It Missing From Instructions On Disability Discrimination, As Well?

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Retaliation
The California Court of Appeal recently highlighted a fundamental flaw in the California Civil Jury Instructions (“CACI”) on a cause of action for retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).  The instruction is missing the element of retaliatory intent or animus.  This flaw has not been brought to the forefront previously … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Recognizes That The “Ministerial Exception” Under The First Amendment Precludes Retaliation Claim Brought Under The ADA

Posted in Discrimination, Education, First Amendment, Retaliation
This post was co-authored by Michael Blacher On January 11, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, No. 10-553, in which the Court recognized for the first time the existence of the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws.  That exception allows religious organizations, including religious schools, to make employment … Continue Reading

Individual Employees Cannot Be Sued In State Court For Military Discrimination

Posted in Discrimination, Military Discrimination, Military Leave
California’s Military and Veterans Code contains protections against discrimination for members of the armed forces.  Recently, the issue of whether an individual can be held personally liable for discrimination was addressed.  In Haligowski v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the Court of Appeal held that employees who are members of the armed forces may … Continue Reading

Evidence Of Harsh Discipline Against More Mature Employees Can Be Evidence Of Pretext In An Age Discrimination Case

Posted in Discrimination, Workplace Policies
When an employer inconsistently imposes discipline and does not follow its own discipline procedures and policies, it leaves room for employees to make claims of discriminatory animus.  This was recently highlighted in a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Earl v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc.  The Court held that an employee with a … Continue Reading

Holidays And The Workplace: Be Merry Or Bah Humbug

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Workplace Policies
The holidays are a festive time to be shared with family, friends and even coworkers.  Many employers also join in the celebrations by allowing employees to put up decorations and exchange gifts.  Employers also like to host holiday parties filled with food, music and alcohol.  However, these types of activities may create legal liability for … Continue Reading