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Steven E. Springer July 28, 2016

Discrimination is a moral and ethical issue and in the business world, but it also presents legal obstacles. Employment status based on anything other than job qualifications has severe repercussions. The importance of avoiding any behavior that may be construed as discriminatory must be understood to ensure the longevity of any business venture. Awareness of the laws in place and the penalties for breaking them creates a solid foundation on which to grow any business.


The California Employment and Fair Housing Act announces that it is against the law to deny employment or advancement opportunities based on any of the following reasons:

  • Race;

  • Religious creed;

  • Color;

  • National origin;

  • Ancestry;

  • Physical ability;

  • Mental disability;

  • Medical condition;

  • Genetic information;

  • Marital status,

  • Sex;

  • Gender;

  • Gender identity;

  • Gender expression;

  • Age;

  • Sexual orientation;

  • Language barrier;

  • Military affiliation; or

  • Veteran status.

If someone is found to be a victim of discrimination, they may be entitled to be hired, payment of wages or back pay, promoted, have expert witness fees paid, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs covered, awarded punitive damages, and emotional distress damages received.


Discrimination can occur unintentionally or out of genuine malice by any employer or business owner. There are steps that can be taken to lessen the opportunity for a discrimination suit. Such behaviors include:

  • In recruitment advertising, avoid language about a particular characteristic such as “mature”, “young”, and even “ten years experience”;

  • State commitment to equal opportunities;

  • List specifically the roles of the position and the tasks required;

  • Give a specification regarding a person that would be ideal for the post including only skills and knowledge, qualifications, experience, and personal qualities;

  • Assess all candidates equally based on the position requirements and their skills;

  • Use two or more people when reviewing applications;

  • Social media usage should be used cautiously when considering an application;

  • Offer reasonable accommodations, including access requirements, as a part of the recruitment interview;

  • Ask health-related questions only as they pertain directly to job specific functions; and

  • Ensure that advertisement for promotion opportunities reach all employees.

Although these suggestions are not entirely comprehensive, if you follow these steps you will be well on your way to protecting yourself and your business from a discrimination lawsuit. The California Equal Employment and Fair Housing Act is detailed and has many facets that must be followed. If you have questions regarding employment discrimination, it is often beneficial to speak to an experienced San Jose, CA business attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer today to schedule your 20-minute free initial consultation at either our Morgan Hill or San Jose office by calling 408-779-4700, or at our Fremont office at 510-791-7137.