The Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, is a law that protects employees from discrimination, harassment and retaliation at work. It applies to all employers that have five or more full-time or part-time workers – and the anti-harassment provisions in the law apply to all employers with one or more employees.
What is FEHA?
FEHA prevents discrimination related to:
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Medical conditions
- Military or veteran status
- National origin
- Religious creed
- Sex (to include pregnancy)
- Sexual orientation
The law also protects people from retaliation if they make a complaint, help another person make a complaint, or oppose any action in the workplace that violates the law.
When is it Legal for Employers to Discriminate?
When it comes to disability, the only times an employer is allowed to “discriminate” is when the person is unable to perform the essential functions of the job, and there’s no reasonable accommodation that the employer could make to enable the person to perform the job; and when the person would create an imminent and substantial danger to him- or herself, or to others, by performing the job and when it’s impossible to make a reasonable accommodation to remove or reduce the danger.
In cases such as these, what the employer is doing is not considered discrimination because the person could either not perform the job’s duties and isn’t qualified or because the person would pose a danger to other employees. Employers aren’t required to put employees at risk.
However, it’s not legal for employers to discriminate because there’s a possibility of future harm to the person or to others; it’s also illegal to discriminate because hiring someone with a disability could raise the employer’s insurance rates.
What Else FEHA Does
FEHA’s protections are generally more encompassing (they cover more ground for more people) than federal protections are.
In 2016, new regulations went into effect to strengthen the Fair Housing Employment and Housing Act. Those new regulations:
- Require employers to create anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies
- Require employers to distribute written copies of their policies to employees in English and other languages that are spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce
- Require employers to conduct training regarding discrimination and harassment
Does FEHA Only Cover Employers?
FEHA doesn’t only cover employers. It also covers labor organizations, employment bureaus and people who aid and abet violations of the act.
Examples of Discrimination Covered by FEHA
FEHA prohibits all kinds of employment discrimination. Use this table of examples to determine whether something similar has happened to you – and whether your employer may have violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
|Type of Discrimination|| |
|Age||Treating a young worker differently from an older worker |
Inappropriate language used to describe workers of obviously different ages
Language that suggests an employer is looking for someone young, like “recent college graduate” or “first-time employment”
|Ancestry||Harassment based on a person’s perceived ancestry |
Being paid less than other workers because of your ancestry or national origin
Harassment due to cultural traits or clothing, such as wearing a hijab
|Color||Racial slurs, or offensive or derogatory remarks about your race of color |
An employer’s refusal to hire you because of the color of your skin
Harassment from a supervisor, a co-worker or even a client or customer based on your skin color
|Disability||An employer’s refusal to hire you based on an actual or perceived disability that would not prevent you from performing the tasks assigned with a job |
An employer’s refusal to make reasonable accommodations so you can perform your job
Harassment that includes things like offensive remarks about a disability or about your ability to perform a job
|Gender||Not being hired or being given a lower-paying position because of your sex, such as when an employer only hires people of a certain gender for certain jobs |
Being evaluated more harshly or held to different (or higher) standards because you don’t act or present yourself according to traditional ideals of femininity or masculinity
Being paid less than a person of a different gender when that person is similarly or less-qualified than you are
|Genetic information||An employer refusing to hire you because you carry a certain gene or there’s an inherited disorder present in your family |
An employer firing you or making any other employment decisions based on a hereditary disease that manifests itself
|Marital status||An employer’s refusal to hire you or promote you (or make any other employment decision) because you’re married or single, which can include saying something like, “This isn’t a job for people with families” or “We’re looking for a good family man for this job” |
Direct or indirect questions about your marital status during the hiring process, such as, “You’re wearing an engagement ring – are you getting married soon?”
|Medical conditions||An employer’s failure to make reasonable accommodations for your medical condition |
An employer’s refusal to allow you time off for medical treatments (although the time off does not necessarily need to be paid time)
|Military or veteran status||An employer making any employment decision, including declining to hire, choosing to fire or lay off, or declining to promote you because you have to take time off for military training |
An employer refusing to let you return to your former job after returning from military service
|National origin||Harassment due to your actual or perceived national origin |
An employer declining to hire you because you don’t look like the rest of the employees or because you don’t have physical features or a surname that employer associates with its business
Adverse employment decisions due to your national origin, such as harsher disciplinary measures or moving you into a different position within the company because of your national origin
|Race||Racial slurs, or offensive or derogatory remarks about your race of color, as well as the display of racially offensive symbols |
An employer’s failure to hire you because of your race
Harassment in the workplace that’s based on your race
|Religion||An employer’s failure to make religious accommodations, such as giving you Friday nights and Saturdays off because your religion prohibits you from working |
An employer imposing more or different work requirements on you because you’re part of a certain religion
Excluding you from hiring because you have characteristics or a name associated with a particular religion
|Sex (to include pregnancy)||An employer’s failure to pay equally qualified workers the same amount of money for the same work on the basis of sex |
An employer’s failure to hire someone because the employer believes he or she won’t fit into a traditionally male or traditionally female workplace
An employer’s failure to promote someone because the employer believes other employees won’t respect his or her authority on the basis of gender
Harassment on the basis of pregnancy
Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee
|Sexual orientation||Giving workers of a certain sexual orientation different performance reviews than other workers with the same performance receive |
Promoting workers of one sexual orientation over another, even though all parties are equally qualified
Discrimination or harassment due to your perceived or actual sexual orientation
Making disparaging remarks or threats, or otherwise engaging in harassment based on your actual or perceived sexual orientation, provided the remarks, threats or harassment results in a hostile work environment
Did Your Employer Violate FEHA?
While there’s no guarantee that you have a case, if you believe your employer violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act in any way, you should talk to an employment lawyer in Glendale. Your attorney can evaluate your case to find out what happened by examining evidence and asking you questions.
If you do have a case, your lawyer will pursue damages to compensate you for what you’ve lost.
Call us at 818-617-9706 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 for a complimentary consultation. We want to hear what happened to you and determine whether you have a case. If you do, we may be able to get you the compensation you deserve.