Civil Rights/Employment Discrimination

If you believe that you were denied a promotion, demoted, or terminated and that the decision was based on a factor other than job performance, you may have protections under the law; and you may be able to obtain compensation and seek justice for the wrongs you have suffered. Both federal and state laws protect employees from illegal job discrimination. Please contact the Law Offices of Murlene J. Randle by phone: 415-352-0186 or via email:, or via fax: 415-352-0187, for a free consultation.

Types of Discrimination

  • Discrimination in employment can include the following types of discrimination:
  • Age
  • Gender Discrimination
  • Religious Discrimination
  • Race Discrimination
  • Discrimination based on National Origin
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Discrimination based on mental or physical disability
  • Sexual orientation

Federal Law

Among the federal statutes prohibiting discrimination are the following:

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination in employment of individuals over the age of 40.
  • The Older Worker's Benefits Protection Act of 1990 prohibits age discrimination concerning benefits.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against equally qualified people on the account of disability.
  • The Act includes AIDS as a disability. The ADA includes a requirement that reasonable accommodations be made for employees with disabilities. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on race, skin color, religion, age, sex (gender), disability or national origin.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1991 allows victims of employment discrimination to recover damages.
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits wage discrimination based on gender.
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employment discrimination based on place of origin or citizenship status.
  • The Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 makes employers in the federal government accountable for violations of discrimination and retaliation laws.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employment discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or any associated health conditions.

State Law

Various states and local governments often enact their own employment discrimination laws that include or expand the provisions under federal law. In California it is unlawful for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation or preference; while in other states, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate based on personal habits such as smoking. The laws vary from state to state.

Wrongful Termination

California and federal law prohibit wrongful termination. An employee can bring a wrongful termination claim against his or her employer if the employee was terminated for a reason other than for job performance. This can include termination due to:

  • Discrimination against the employee.
  • Retaliation against the employee for filing a complaint about the employer or the workplace, or for asserting his or her legal rights.

Constructive Termination

"Constructive Termination" often occurs when an employer makes job conditions so intolerable that the employee is forced to quit. Employees forced to quit under these circumstances may have legal rights to compensation when this happens.

Among the methods employers use to force people out of their jobs are: freezing an employee out of important meetings, giving the employee demeaning tasks to perform, or increasing or decreasing work hours to an unacceptable level. Employers many also allow the targeted employee's co-workers to harass her or him, or permit their supervisor repeatedly to pass over them for a promotion because he or she is African-American, disabled, or due to other protected classes. The ultimate goal of the employer is to make the work environment as miserable as possible so that the employee will simply quit.

Sexual Harassment

This type of harassment is forbidden as to both men and women; and both men and women can file claims for sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment includes:

  • unwelcome advances
  • propositions
  • requests for sexual favors (known as "quid pro quo)
  • and other spoken or verbal or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature.
  • harassing language, posters, cartoons, and pictures.

When such behavior affects an employee's job performance, there may be grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit.

If an employer allows employees to create a hostile or offensive work environment, by doing nothing when one employee makes sexual overtures to another, this can also be considered sexual harassment.


Retaliation is action taken against an employee for exercising his or her legal rights in the workplace. If an employee files a complaint concerning discrimination or harassment, and/or participates in the investigation of allegations of discrimination made by coworkers, and the employer fires the employee because of that complaint, this could be considered retaliatory and thus illegal under California and federal law. Demotion can also be considered retaliatory if done in reaction to an employee complaint or assertion of legal rights.