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Ochoa & Calderon

Addressing Sex and Gender Discrimination in the Hiring Process

Hand holding a paper heart with transgender pride flag. Paper figures of woman and man on pink and blue background. Trans people and gender identity.

California law aims to even the playing field for employees and applicants of all sexes, genders, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Unfortunately, employment discrimination remains a serious problem across the country and within the state. Discrimination can occur even before an employee is hired. Below, we discuss the contours of sex and gender discrimination under California law, and how discrimination can manifest. If you believe you’ve been the subject of sex or gender discrimination either in the hiring process or while employed, call a California employment law and workplace discrimination attorney for advice and representation.

California Law Prohibits Sex and Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Both federal and California state laws protect employees against discrimination in the workplace. Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on sex. California law is even more protective than federal law, applying to more businesses and being more explicit about the various protected classes of employees.

Per the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), all employers with at least five employees are prohibited from discriminating, harassing, or retaliating against employees based on protected categories. FEHA covers a variety of protected categories, including:

  • Sex and gender, including discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and related conditions
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and gender expression
  • Marital status
  • Request for family care leave
  • Request for Pregnancy Disability Leave

If you’ve been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on any of the above, you have a claim for discrimination against your current or prospective employer.

Discrimination Starts at the Hiring Stage

Sex discrimination means treating someone unfavorably because of a protected characteristic, which could include their sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other items discussed above. Treating an employee unfavorably means subjecting an employee to harassment, retaliation, or discrimination concerning the incidents and benefits of employment.

As a current employee, discrimination can mean a range of unfavorable treatments, including unequal pay, reduced bonuses, unequal distribution of tasks, unfavorable positions or locations, reduced benefits, rejected promotions, etc. Discrimination can also, however, take place in the hiring process. If an employer refuses to interview or adequately consider prospective employees based on their membership in a protected class, the employer can be held liable for unlawful discrimination.

Examples of Sex and Gender Discrimination in the Hiring Process

Discrimination in the hiring cycle can take many forms, although it may be harder to spot than discrimination against active employees. Examples of gender or sex-based hiring discrimination include:

  • Refusing to review applications from applicants based on their sex or gender
  • Refusing to interview applicants based on their sex or gender
  • Failing to meaningfully consider applicants based on their sex or gender
  • Failing to take interviews of applicants seriously based on their sex or gender
  • Making inappropriate remarks during interviews or other parts of the hiring process that concern an applicant’s sex or gender
  • Being held to different standards based on the applicant’s sex or gender
  • Treating applicants differently based on sex or gender (e.g., asking only female applicants questions about pregnancy or children)
  • Categorically offering lower pay or reduced benefits to applicants based on their sex or gender
  • Including standards or requirements for a position that are not bona fide occupational qualifications but that, in effect, target a specific sex or gender (e.g., height and weight requirements)

Discrimination can be explicit and direct, or it may be implicit and indirect. A company that does not explicitly spell out a policy of hiring fewer women might still be guilty of discrimination if they have a historical pattern of hiring only men or predominantly only men, for example. If you believe you may have been the victim of discrimination based on your sex, gender, or another protected characteristic, call an experienced workplace discrimination attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Call a Zealous Labor Law Attorney for Help With California Workplace Discrimination

For help protecting yourself and recovering compensation after experiencing sex or gender discrimination in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderón to discuss your case with a compassionate, diligent California labor and employment attorney. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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