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At the Mara Law Firm, we are prepared to help clients fight for their rights against employment discrimination throughout the COVID-19 shutdown.

While many people are temporarily not working during the coronavirus pandemic, there are still many employees who are either working from home or considered to be essential and still reporting to their workplace. Unfortunately, some employees may be experiencing unlawful employment discrimination, harassment, or retaliation that only adds to their current concerns. 

Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) have issued guidance for employers, which includes the following reminders about discrimination and related unlawful conduct. 

Race and National Origin Discrimination

Both agencies specifically address that discrimination or harassment based on an employee’s race or national origin is strictly prohibited. Unfortunately, there have been reports of employees who are of Asian or Asian-American descent experiencing harassment and other forms of mistreatment due to the rumored origin of COVID-19. Harassment and discrimination are unacceptable – and against the law – if they are based on:

  • An employee’s actual race, ethnicity, or national origin
  • An employee’s perceived race, ethnicity, or national origin
  • An employee’s association or relationship with someone of a particular race, ethnicity, or national origin, including marriage or cohabitation

Harassment can include offensive comments, gestures, notes, pictures, and other communications by other employees, supervisors, or even customers, that result in a hostile work environment. Discrimination can include adverse employment actions such as demotion, reduction of hours, refusal to hire, termination, and more. For example, if an employer that is an essential business fires employees of Asian-American or Asian origin during this outbreak but does not fire anyone of other races, it could be unlawful discrimination. 

Prohibited Retaliation

The law also gives employees the right to report and complain of unlawful harassment and discrimination. If an employee does report mistreatment based on their race or national origin, they should not experience any adverse employment action as a result. This can constitute unlawful retaliation by an employer. Unlawful retaliation can take many forms, including:

  • Undesirable transfers
  • Undesirable shifts
  • Unwarranted disciplinary action
  • Harassment
  • Refusal of deserved promotion or pay increase
  • Demotion or pay reduction
  • Hour reduction
  • Termination of employment

Especially in these times, employers might try anything possible to mask unlawful discrimination or retaliation by providing other excuses for the adverse employment action. It is important to discuss what happened with an experienced attorney who can identify misconduct by your employer and challenge any pretextual reasons given by your employer. Rights to be free from discrimination are still in full effect, even in these complicated times. 

Contact an Attorney for Help with California Employment Law Issues

We know that employment discrimination and retaliation can persist through uncertain times, and our California employment law attorneys are working from home and ready to assess whether you might have a possible case. You should never hesitate to discuss employment concerns with our firm, and you can reach us by phone at (619) 234-2833 or by contacting us online.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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