Employment discrimination can occur during the application and interview process, while an individual is employed or when an employee is terminated. Discrimination may have occurred if someone is not hired when he or she would otherwise be qualified, other than the individual's status in a protected class, if an employee is exposed to a hostile work environment or if he or she is demoted or terminated on the basis of a protected status.
Under California law, people who are considered to be at-will employees have minimal protections if their employer decides to terminate their employment. Some of the protections that do exist are the laws against sexual, racial and other unlawful forms of discrimination. Another type of protection is for whistle-blowers. State and federal whistle-blower laws provide provide that if an employee's dismissal is a result of their good faith reporting of improper actions by their employer or if it violates public policy in some way, he or she may be able to seek recourse for wrongful termination.
Employees who have been harassed or discriminated against in the workplace may face additional negative treatment if they elect to report such actions. Regardless of the specific action, if it is taken as a result of an employee's good faith report of unlawful activity, it is retaliation against the employee. Employees who are the subject of employer retaliation are those who have made an internal complaint, a complaint to a governmental entity or filed a legal action against the company.
There are many areas in which improper regulation or oversight can get an organization in California into non-compliance with employee treatment and protection of rights. In addition to discriminating or retaliating against employees, companies must also be cognizant in how they pay their employees and how much they require them to work.