Employment Discrimination
& Harassment

California law requires that all apartments and rental homes are habitable. Habitable simply means that the property is maintained in a manner consistent with the health and safety of the tenants. Unfortunately, many landlords neglect their rental properties because they either don’t want to spend the money to make their rental property habitable or they simply don’t care about the people who rent their properties
These negligent landlords take advantage of tenants by ignoring their tenants, or simply bullying their tenants. Unfortunately, many tenants are fearful to challenge their landlord when repairs are not made because they are fearful of retaliation such as raising the rent, eviction, or in some cases, fearful of deportation. Landlords who have no problem collecting rent but fail to provide habitable living conditions because they are too cheap or simply don’t care are the definition of slumlords.


California employment law can be very complex because both California state laws and federal laws are involved. By the same token, California and federal laws provide strong remedies to prevent employers from taking advantage of their employees.  

Unfortunately, we all have either experienced some type of employment law violation or know someone is experiencing it. The common type of employment law violation stem from the following: 


The unfortunate reality is that employees (men, woman, straight, gay, young and old) on a daily basis across the country experience sexual harassment by coworkers or supervisors with inappropriate comments, unwanted sexual advances, and inappropriate touching.  
In California, most sexual harassment cases fall under two categories: (1) Hostile Work Environment; and (2) Quid Pro Quo.
Hostile Work Environment
Sexual harassment that results in a hostile work environment often disrupts an employee’s ability to perform their job or makes the employee uncomfortable while at work. Common forms of sexual harassment that create a hostile work environment may include:

A single one of these incidents may be enough to support a legal claim. 

Quid Pro Quo
The term “quid pro quo” is Latin for “something for something.” In quid pro quo cases, a person in a supervisory position, such as a boss or supervisor, demands sexual acts for employment benefits such as a promotion, raise, or to keep their job. A single incident is enough to support a legal claim.


Both California law and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on what is called “protected characteristics” defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These protected characteristics include sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on a disability, age, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Generally, there are two types of discrimination: (1) disparate treatment and (2) disparate impact. 

Disparate treatment is straight forward and usually intentional discrimination where the employee suffers intentional discrimination such as not being promoted because they are pregnant or because they are of a certain race. 

Disparate impact is much harder to prove as it is usually seen as unintentional and proven through statistical disparities such as a policy or procedure that has a disproportionately adverse effect on the employee, such as no one is promoted who is over a certain age or a certain race or religion. 


California law strictly prohibits the discrimination of women based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition as a result of either of these experiences. 

An employer is required to reasonably accommodate a pregnant employee, if necessary, by adjusting work duties or schedule. An employer may not discriminate against a pregnant employee for taking a maternity leave from work. 

Furthermore, upon an employee returning from maternity leave, the employer must also provide a reasonable amount of lactation break time to accommodate the employee in doing so. 


California supports “at-will” employment, which means an employer can terminate their employee for any reason and without warning. However, an employer does not have the right to wrongfully terminate an employee for inappropriate or illegal reasons. An employer cannot terminate an employee simply based on a protected characteristic such as  religion, race, ethnicity, gender, and national origin, nor can an employer terminate an employee based on pregnancy, disability, or age.


Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer retaliates against an employee who reports or participates in a work-related investigation such sexual harassment, unpaid wages or unpaid overtime, or workplace hazard or illegal activity. An employer may attempt to retaliate against an employee through suspension, demotion, termination or any form of punishing the employee for exercising their rights. 


If you believe you are being are a victim of harassment or discrimination, there are several steps you take to address your concerns. 

  1. Refer to your workplace’s employee handbook on dealing with your concern, such as who in your workplace should be notified.
  2. Document the incident(s) by emailing or writing a letter to management or the person who is responsible for handling this type of incident. 
  3. If your workplace has no department such as human resources, nor does it identify any person to contact, you should notify your immediate supervisor in writing of the incident.
  4. Tell the person who is harassing you, in writing, that their behavior is not welcome and making you feel uncomfortable.
  5. Carefully document and write down all instances of harassment, including dates, times, places, and witnesses.
  6. Save all text messages and e-mails that evidence harassment, even if to friends or family. 

We understand that following many of these steps is easier said than done. It is important to consult an experienced professional to help you deal with the harassment. The Zolfaghari Law Firm is much more than another employment law firm. We can help you seek the medical help you may need to deal with any psychological or physical stress or may be a beacon of hope to answer some of your questions in dealing with your concerns.