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Laws enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and related federal laws protect you from illegal discrimination and harassment in employment based on:

• Race
• Color
• Religion
• Sex (pregnancy or gender)
• Sexual orientation
• Marital status
• National origin (including language use restrictions)
• Ancestry
• Disability (mental and physical, including HIV and AIDS)
• Medical condition (cancer/genetic characteristics)
• Age (40 and above)
• Denial of family and medical care leave
• Denial of pregnancy disability leave or reasonable accommodation

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act Exists to:

  • Prohibit harassment of employees, applicants, and independent contractors by any persons and require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • Prohibit employers from limiting or prohibiting the use of any language in any workplace unless justified by business necessity. The employer must notify employees of the language restriction and consequences for violation.
  • Require that all employers provide information to each of their employees on the nature, illegality, and legal remedies that apply to sexual harassment. Employers may either develop their own publications, which must meet standards as set forth in California Government Code Section 12950, or use a brochure from the DFEH.
  • Require employers with 50 or more employees and all public entities to provide sexual harassment prevention training for all supervisors.
  • Require employers to reasonably accommodate an employee or job applicant’s religious beliefs and practices.
  • Require employers to reasonably accommodate employees or job applicants with a disability in order to enable them to perform the essential functions of a job.
  • Permit job applicants and employees to file complaints with the DFEH against an employer, employment agency, or labor union that fails to grant equal employment as required by law.
  • Prohibit discrimination against any job applicant or employee in hiring, promotions, assignments, termination, or any term, condition, or privilege of employment.
  • Require employers, employment agencies, and unions to preserve applications, personnel records, and employment referral records for a minimum of two years.
  • Require employers to provide leaves of up to four months to employees disabled because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
  • Require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations requested by an employee, on the advice of her health care provider, related to her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • Require employers of 50 or more persons to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child; the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; for an employee’s own serious health condition; or to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition.  (Employers are required to post a notice informing employees of their family and medical leave rights.)
  • Require employment agencies to serve all applicants equally, refuse discriminatory job orders, and prohibit employers and employment agencies from making discriminatory pre-hiring inquiries or publishing help-wanted advertising that expresses a discriminatory hiring preference.
  • Require unions not to discriminate in member admissions or dispatching to jobs.
  • Prohibit retaliation against a person who opposes, reports, or assists another person in opposing unlawful discrimination.

The law provides for administrative fines and remedies for individuals, including the following: hiring, front pay, back pay, promotion, reinstatement, cease-and-desist order, expert witness fees, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, punitive damages, and damages for emotional distress.