New Law To Make It Possible To Sue For Discrimination Based On A Single Offensive Remark Or Act

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Denis ZilberbergJuly 20, 2018Workplace Discrimination

The standard for filing a discrimination or harassment claim is set to change dramatically with Senate Bill 1300 (Jackson) making its way through the California legislature.

The proposed bill would significantly lower the legal standard for making a discrimination or harassment claim in California. Under the existing law, employees in Los Angeles, Riverside, and elsewhere in the state are allowed to take legal action against their employers, supervisors, and coworkers only if the discrimination or harassment is “severe or pervasive.”

Under the proposed bill, victims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace would have a legal right to bring claims based on a single discriminatory or harassing remark or act. This would dramatically lower the existing standard for filing a discrimination or harassment claim in California.

“Currently, employees in the state have a right to sue their employers if the discriminatory or harassing conduct increased in severity or became pervasive over time,” explains our Los Angeles discrimination attorney from The Kaufman Law Firm.

The bill to make it easier to sue for discrimination and harassment

Under the proposed bill, employees would be eligible to sue their employers, supervisors, and coworkers for making a single insensitive, humiliating, or offensive remark, negative assumption, or joke about the claimant as long as the discriminatory remark or act targeted one of the characteristics protected by federal and state law.

The new bill, if passed into law, would spring up an increased number of discrimination and harassment claims and lawsuits in California, as the legal rights of both employees and independent contractors would be expanded.

“The proposed bill would also alter the existing sexual harassment training requirements,” says our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer. “Unlike the existing law, which requires employers with 50 or more employees or independent contractors to train their supervisors every 2 years, SB 1300 would expand the training requirement to all employees, not just supervisors. The new bill is also set to improve bystander intervention training.”

Severe and pervasive discrimination in California: explained

The changes that would be introduced in the proposed law are astronomical if you draw a comparison between SB 1300 and the existing law in California. Currently, in order to file a discrimination or harassment claim in California, you need to establish that the discriminatory or harassing behavior, remark, or act was “severe and pervasive.” Meaning: the behavior, remark, or act created a hostile work environment, and your ability to perform your job has been negatively affected.

Under the existing law, your experienced discrimination attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California is required to look into the following factors in order to determine that the conduct was “severe and pervasive”:

  • The nature of the conduct (does it qualify as discriminatory or harassing?)
  • The frequency of the conduct (how often did the conduct occur?)
  • The circumstances under which the conduct occurred and
  • The effect of the conduct on you and your work performance

Who has a right to file a discrimination claim in California?

On the federal level, harassing or making insensitive or offensive remarks, negative assumptions, or joking about an individual is prohibited and considered discrimination as long as any of the protected characteristics are the target of the discriminatory conduct:

  • Race
  • Skin color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender, including pregnancy and medical conditions related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth
  • Disability (physical and mental)
  • Age (over 40)
  • Immigration status and
  • Genetic information

California has further expanded the protected characteristics and makes it illegal to discriminate against your employee, supervisor, or coworker based on:

  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and expression
  • AIDS/HIV status
  • Medical condition
  • Political opinion, activities, and affiliations
  • Military or veteran status
  • Domestic violence, assault, or stalking

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles discrimination attorney at The Kaufman Law Firm. Call our offices at 310-981-3404 or complete this contact form.


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