The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds employers in California and throughout the country responsible when federal laws protecting the civil rights of workers are violated. On Sept. 21, the agency filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. in federal court. The EEOC says that the nation's largest private employer violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by treating pregnant women more harshly than other workers. Similar lawsuits have been filed against the retailer in New York and Illinois.
Older women in California who have been discriminated against in the workplace due to their age may have legal recourse. However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just 3 percent of older workers in general who have seen or been a victim of workplace age discrimination have filed a complaint.
It's been a little over 50 years since Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which is supposed to protect employees in California and elsewhere from age-related discrimination in the workplace. However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, many employers still show bias against older workers. As a result, the agency has started aggressively combating the issue.
One struggle people in California might encounter in the workplace is the issue of subtle discrimination or harassment. While it may be easy to identify overt speech and action, this can be much more difficult when the discrimination is harder to pinpoint.
Transgender people in California live in an uncertain environment about their federal level legal protections from workplace discrimination. Some legal rulings, like the unanimous decision this year from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 in favor of a transgender employee, have shown judicial willingness to view Title VII prohibitions on sex discrimination as inclusive of people mistreated because of their gender identity. However, opposing views remain active as illustrated by the request from 13 Republican attorneys general and three Republican governors representing 16 states asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the 6th Circuit ruling.
Despite the rising publicity and awareness about sexual harassment, some of the most prominent companies in California may still be guilty of gender discrimination. One group of female former employees at Nike, the athletic wear company, have filed a lawsuit alleging that the corporation systematically discriminated against women on the job through a hostile work environment. The suit, filed in August 2018, argues that the company discriminated against women in terms of employment conditions, promotions and pay, among other issues.
Some older job seekers in California and throughout the country may not be recruited for certain jobs, and several related lawsuits are in progress. One 45-year-old woman found that her daughter was seeing job ads on Facebook that she was not. In December, the Communication Workers of America filed a lawsuit on her behalf and that of other workers against Facebook, T-Mobile and a number of other companies alleging age discrimination.
Most older workers in California and across the U.S. face age discrimination according to a new survey by AARP. The discrimination occurs both during job searches and in the workplace.
As part of its efforts to crack down on leave policy violations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled a case against Mueller Industries Inc. The agency accused the manufacturer of discriminating against disabled employees with its leave policy. The settlement that emerged from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California applies to Mueller Industries' nationwide operations. This case illustrated the commission's ongoing effort to address discriminatory practices derived from strict limits on the length of leaves or requirements that employees must be completely healthy to resume work.
It is a simple fact: pregnancy discrimination still runs rampant in the workplace. In over 20 years of practicing employment litigation in California, my pregnancy discrimination caseload has not let up.