California state and federal laws protect employees and individuals from harassment and discrimination in the workplace and in other situations.  The Law Office of Mark C. Thomas help to defend the civil rights of employees who are victims of harassment or discrimination. 


No employee should be subjected to harassment in the workplace.  Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, solicitations or requests, demands for sexual compliance, or other verbal, visual, or physical conduct that is unwelcome.  Harassment includes:

Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations, comments, posts or messages;

Visual displays such as derogatory and/or sexually-oriented posters, photography, cartoons, drawings or gestures;

Physical conduct including assault, unwanted touching, intentionally blocking normal movement or interfering with work because of sex, race or any other protected basis;

Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests or sexual advances as a condition of continued employment, or to avoid some other loss and offers of employment benefits in return for sexual favors;

Retaliation for reporting or threatening to report harassment; and

Communication via electronic media of any type that includes any conduct that is prohibited by state and/or federal law or by our policy.

Sexual harassment does not need to be motivated by sexual desire to be unlawful or to violate this policy. For example, hostile acts toward an employee because of his/her gender can amount to sexual harassment, regardless of whether the treatment is motivated by sexual desire.


Prohibited harassment is not just sexual harassment but harassment based on any protected category.



No employee should be subject to age bias, racial bias, or other intolerance in the workplace.  Civil rights laws and equal employment opportunity laws establish the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees regarding the hiring, termination, and treatment of employees based on factors such as religion, race, age, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition.  Both employees and potential applications are protected by these state and federal laws.

Race Discrimination in the Workplace

It is illegal for any employer to hire, terminate, promote, or determine an employee’s wages or benefits based on their ethnic background.  In addition, it is considered discriminatory practice to take any of those actions based on other employee or job applicant traits such as sex, religious affiliation, or disability.

California and Federal law protect employees from being discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity.  The purpose of these laws is to encourage equal rights and treatment among all employees and potential job candidates.  Employees are protected from discrimination based on both race or color and national background (discrimination based on one’s country of origin or family background). 

If you are a victim of race persecution, intolerance, or stereotyping, our law firm is here to provide comprehensive legal assistance and resources. 

Gender Discrimination

Workplace gender discrimination comes in many different forms, but generally it means that an employee or a job applicant is treated differently or less favorably because of their sex or gender, or because the person is affiliated with an organization or group that is associated with a particular sex or gender.  

Examples of treatment that could be gender discrimination include:

  • not being hired, or being given a lower-paying position because of your sex (for example, when an employer refuses to hire women, or only hires women for certain jobs)
  • being held to different or higher standards, or being evaluated more harshly, because of your sex, or because you don’t act or present yourself in a way that conforms to traditional ideas of femininity or masculinity – For example, if a worker who identifies as a woman receives a negative performance evaluation that criticizes her for being too “aggressive” (while men who behave the same way are praised for showing “leadership”), or if she wears her hair short and is told she needs to be more “presentable,” she may be experiencing discrimination based on sex stereotypes, which is a form of gender discrimination.
  • being paid less than a person of a different sex who is similarly or less qualified than you, or who has similar (or fewer) job duties than you
  • being denied a promotion, pay raise, or training opportunity that is given to people of another sex who are equally or less qualified or eligible as you
  • being written up or disciplined for something that other employees of a different sex do all the time but never get punished for
  • being insulted, called derogatory names or slurs because of your sex, or hearing hostile remarks about people of a certain sex, gender, or gender identity
  • being intentionally or repeatedly called by a name or referred to as a different gender that you don’t identify with – as when a transgender man is called by his former (female-associated) name or referred to as “Miss”

Discrimination Against Pregnant Women

California and Federal law protect Pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant.  Specifically, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a woman because of anything medically related to pregnancy.  California also has laws in place that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in any public or private location, with limited exceptions.

As a new or expectant mother, you were probably overjoyed to learn of your pregnancy.  It can be a period of great happiness and excitement; but those feelings can be dampened if you become a victim of pregnancy based bias on the part of your employer.  This kind of discrimination is a form of sexism and is a violation of your rights as a woman and mother.  We are well-prepared to provide legal guidance and counsel to you and your family if you are a victim of prejudice against pregnant women.

It is illegal to discriminate against pregnant women.  There are several situations covered and enforced under this law, including:

  • Employers cannot discriminate against a woman for being pregnant and unmarried
  • Employers cannot hire or terminate an employee because of pregnancy or possibility of pregnancy
  • Employees cannot be forced to take maternity leave
  • Employers cannot deny compensation or benefits provided to other employees to a woman just because she is pregnant

Employers must treat a pregnancy as they would any other temporarily disabling medical conditions.  The health insurance benefits provided to the woman by her employer must also cover her pregnancy related treatments the same as any other required medical treatment (within the scope of the health plan’s coverage).  Under California State law, all women also have the right to breastfeed their children in any public or private place (with a few minor exceptions).

Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age discrimination laws protect employees and prospective job candidates over 40 from discrimination based upon age.  Employers cannot hire job applicants or terminate employees based upon age; the decision to hire or terminate must be based upon other factors.  If you are a victim of age-based workplace prejudice, you may be entitled to back pay, reinstatement, future pay changes, and other monetary compensation. 

Disability Discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against any employee because of any actual or perceived disability.  Disability discrimination includes an employer’s obligation to accommodate an employees disability.  Examples of accommodations include:

  • Modifying existing job duties or job restructuring.
  • Relocating the work area.
  • Providing mechanical or electrical aids.
  • Making existing facilities accessible.
  • Granting part-time or modified work schedules.
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment.
  • Changing tests, training materials or policies.
  • Providing qualified readers or interpreters.
  • Reassigning the employee to a vacant position.
  • Providing leave as an accommodation.

These are just a few possible accommodations. The possibilities are limited only by an employee’s and employer’s imaginations.


It is illegal under both state and federal law to fire an employee as retaliation for engaging in any “protected activity.”  Protected activities include opposing or complaining about harassment or discrimination, filing a complaint with a government agency against the employer, or participating in a government or internal investigation.