Employee Discrimination


The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Government Code Section 12940 et seq.) establishes a civil right to be free from job discrimination, either directly or indirectly, based on certain classifications or ​protected categories. ​Discrimination occurs when the employer treats the employee or applicant differently because the employee or applicant is:

  • An actual member of a protected class;
  • Because the employee or applicant is ​perceived ​as being a member of a protected class;
  • Because of the employee or applicant’s ​association​ with someone in a protected class; or,
  • Because the employee or applicant has engaged in protected activity or complained about conduct, which he or she has​ ​good faith and reasonable belief is unlawful.

In order for discrimination to be unlawful, the different treatment must “​materially affect​” the employee or applicant’s terms and conditions of employment​ ​and be reasonably likely to negatively affect the employee or applicant’s s job performance or prospects for advancement or promotion. Many courts refer to this as “​adverse employment actions​”.


  • Applicants
  • Employees
  • FEHA protects individuals regardless of his or her immigration status.
  • FEHA does not protect Independent contractors for discrimination claims.


FEHA applies to California employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship training programs, and any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, who employ five or more individuals for each working day in any twenty consecutive calendar week in the current calendar year or previous calendar year. The definition of employer also includes the state, municipalities and political subdivisions of the state.

FEHA does not provide a remedy against employers employing less than five people, religious associations, and nonprofit corporations. Individual supervisors are not personally liable for discrimination claims.


Discrimination may include, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • Hostile or demeaning behavior towards applicants or employees because of their protected category.
  • Refusal to hire or employ an applicant because of their protected category.
  • Refusal to select an applicant or employee for a training program leading to employment because of their protected category.
  • Refusal to promote an employee because of their protected category.
  • Demotion of an employee because of their protected category.
  • Reduction in the pay or hours of the employee because of their protected category.
  • Setting up the employee for failure because of their protected category.
  • Discrimination against an applicant or employee in terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of their protected category.
  • Termination of an employee because of their protected category.
  • Harassment of an applicant or employee because of their protected category.
  • Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence due to a disability or pregnancy over the employee’s objections.
  • Retaliation, termination or discrimination against an employee or applicant because he or she has opposed employment practices forbidden under FEHA or because the applicant or employee has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under FEHA.
  • To issue a false write-up or disciplinary action.
  • To refuse to allow the employee to attend meeting or work functions.
  • Failure to provide a disabled employee with time off or a reasonable accommodation.
  • Unwarranted negative performance evaluations.
  • Exaggerating a minor instance of misconduct into one that will lead to dismissal.
  • Requiring an employee to work in a discriminatorily hostile or abusive environment.
  • Employee has been subjected to any other action “that is reasonably likely to deter employees from engaging in protected activities
Adverse employment actions are not limited to conduct results in an economic loss or cause a psychological injury.
Courts look at the totality of circumstances when determining whether a particular action or course of conduct rises to the level of actionable conduct.
Minor or relatively trivial adverse actions or conduct by employers or fellow employees that, from an objective perspective, are reasonably likely to do no more than anger or upset an employee cannot properly be viewed as materially affecting the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment and are not actionable.


Under California law, it is unlawful for an employer with five (5) or more employees to discriminate or against an applicant or employee or treat an applicant or employee differently in the terms of compensation, conditions, or privileges of employment if they belong to one or more of the following protected categories:

  • Age Discrimination [40 years and older]​.
  • Racial Discrimination.
  • Color Discrimination.
  • Religious Discrimination (including religious dress and grooming practices).
  • National Origin Discrimination.
  • Ancestry Discrimination.
  • Setting up the employee for failure because of their protected category.
  • Disability Discrimination [Physical and Mental Disability].
  • Medical Condition Discrimination [including cancer, a record of cancer, genetic characteristics, diseases, disorders, or other inherited characteristics].
  • Genetic information Discrimination.
  • Marital status Discrimination.
  • Sex Discrimination.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination [including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions].
  • Gender Discrimination, Gender Identity Discrimination and Gender expression Discrimination.
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination [heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality].
  • Military and Veteran status Discrimination​ ​[“Military and veteran status” means a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserve, the United States National Guard, and the California National Guard.]
  • Because the employee has opposed unlawful discrimination or harassment.
  • Because the employee or applicant has opposed unlawful conduct.
  • Because the employer perceives the employee to have one or more of these characteristics.
  • Due to the employee’s association with a person that has any of the protected characteristics.
  • Because the employee has requested or been approved for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act.
Unless the discrimination is based on one of the above listed categories, the discrimination does not fall under the FEHA.


There are two ways an employee or applicant can prove unlawful discrimination.

  • Disparate treatment cases (“because of”).
  • Disparate impact or adverse impact cases.


Before pursuing a civil suit for discrimination under California law, a plaintiff must first exhaust his or her administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The complaint must be filed with the DFEH within one year of the discriminatory conduct. Once an individual files a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, he or she can ask the DFEH to not investigate the claim but, rather, issue a right-to-sue letter.


The FEHA and ADA bestow specific rights to the mentally and physically disabled to ensure that they are afforded equal opportunities in the workplace while simultaneously providing for the right to obtain the medical and mental health care needed.

The term “disability” is broadly defined and may include but is not limited to the following diseases and afflictions:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Deafness
  • Heart Disease
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Kidney Disease
  • Neurological Disease
  • Paralysis
  • Schizophrenia

Under the Reasonable Accommodations provision, employers must make a reasonable effort to provide access to the workplace facilities, as well as a work station that will allow a disabled employee to properly carry out their job duties. They must also work with the employee to modify the work schedule to allow proper medical care and attention.

However, the primary test when evaluating whether or not an employer has violated the Reasonable Accommodations clause is whether making accommodations would place an undue hardship upon the employer.

Overall, a disabled employee must be able to demonstrate several critical facts to prevail in a Disability Discrimination lawsuit. These include proving the following elements:

  • The employee has a disability
  • The employee is qualified for the position which they are seeking or for which they have been hired
  • And finally, that the employee was the victim of unlawful discrimination in the workplace due to their disability.

Because these cases can become highly complex, it is crucial that you retain an experienced Disability Discrimination Lawyer who possesses the skills necessary to help prove these allegations. Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Morris Nazarian is a skilled attorney who has obtained numerous high dollar monetary judgments and settlements on behalf of plaintiff employees.


At the Law Offices of Morris Nazarian we proudly represent individuals with Discrimination matters. ​Mr. Nazarian possesses an in-depth understanding of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA).

Please ​contact Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney Morris Nazarian at (310) 284-7333 if you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination at work. A highly compassionate and skilled Employment Lawyer, Mr. Nazarian fights aggressively to protect the rights of workers throughout the region and obtain fair and just compensation when they’ve been the victims of wrongful conduct.

Attorney Morris Nazarian provides a free, in-office consultation to all new clients. During your consultation, Mr. Nazarian will gather pertinent information from you and will provide you with a comprehensive case analysis.


If you have been discriminated in the workplace, it is important that you speak to a Los Angeles discrimination attorney who understands these complex laws. Morris Nazarian has successfully represented employees who have been who have been subjected to workplace discrimination. Please ​contact Los Angeles Employment Attorney Morris Nazarian by calling (310) 284-7333 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation or please fill out the Employment Law Case Evaluation Form [link: case evaluation form] and Los Angeles Employment lawyer will call or email you as soon as possible.