California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants based a protected characteristic.  Discrimination can be through adverse job actions, implied conduct and negative treatment.  Additionally, California and San Diego employers must prevent unlawful discrimination in the workplace.  They are required to take measures to fairly investigate discrimination complaints.  If you’ve suffered an adverse employment action, been subject to retaliation, or if your complaint wasn’t investigated, you may have an employment claim.  Individuals misclassified as an independent contractor may also sue under the Fair Employment and Housing Act if they are legally an employee of the company.


Discrimination under California law is prohibited if based on the following protected characteristics:

  • Race, skin color, ethnic ancestry or national origin
  • Religious affiliation, beliefs and creed
  • Age (over 40)
  • Mental or physical disability
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions
  • Sex or gender
  • Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Military and veteran status

Mistreatment due to a protected characteristic of you or a loved one may also serve as the basis for a harassment or hostile work environment claim under California employment law.


An adverse employment action is an essential element of your California employment discrimination claim.  An adverse action is any negative treatment that you’ve faced in the workplace:

  • Not hired as an applicant to the company
  • Denied a promotion or raise
  • Given less hours or less desirable work
  • Fired, laid off or forced to resign
  • Demoted or suspended
  • Put on a performance improvement plan

These are just a few examples of an adverse action.  Comments, actions and implied conduct can also serve as evidence in support of your claim.


Employees or applicants who are unlawfully discriminated against may recover a wide range of damages and remedies under the Fair Employment and Housing Act:

  • Back pay (for lost earnings)
  • Front pay (for future lost earnings)
  • Lost bonuses and commissions
  • Lost benefits (dental, medical, vision, etc.)
  • Lost pensions and retirement earnings
  • Hiring and reinstatement
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Policy changes
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney’s fees and costs
  • Interest
  • Injunctive relief

We evaluate your case to determine the potential range of liability and damages.  It is important to have a clear understanding of the incident timeline and all of your losses and damages before taking action.


The law limits the amount of time for an employee or job applicant to file an employment discrimination claim.  We can help evaluate your circumstances and put together a plan to get the justice and compensation you deserve.  Contact us today for a free consultation at our San Diego office with Nicholas J. Ferraro.