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How To Report Unfair Treatment in the Workplace in California

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Unfair treatment at work can easily step past the bounds of favoritism and into discrimination, which is why it is never recommended in the workplace. As a victim of negative unfair treatment, employees can fight back and hold employers responsible for any unfair treatment and discrimination that occurs under their supervision.

Unfair treatment inevitably produces a hostile work environment for some which generally reduces morale and productivity across all affected parties. If this treatment qualifies as discrimination, this becomes a legal issue that employers are responsible for stopping. If employers continue to allow the unfair treatment to proceed, you should call the offices of Mesriani Law Group at (866) 500 – 7070 for a free consultation to determine the best plan of action to preserve your employment rights. Our team can help formalize a complaint for the EEOC and ensure that your voice is heard. In the event your employer committed unlawful discrimination, our team can fight for you to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.


What is Unfair Treatment at Work?

Unfair treatment at work is a broad statement that can cover several different scenarios. Being denied a promotion, being terrorized or threatened, being the recipient of contentious or destructive behavior from colleagues, can qualify as unfair treatment. However, just because something is unfair does not make it illegal. If the unfair treatment was the result of favoritism or office politics, it would be hard to argue something illegal occurred. If the decision to treat an employee unfairly was made as a result of discrimination against a protected class, that unfair treatment gets upgraded to unlawful conduct. The latter, has serious implications and consequences for a business and it is the responsibility of employers to mitigate and stop.


Examples of Unfair Treatment at Work

It’s illegal to treat someone unfairly at work if that decision was made to discriminate against any of the following protected classes:

  • Age: Employees and applicants over 40 can be treated unfairly because of their age. There are laws that protect employees from discrimination due to age
  • Disability: Mistreating employees because of a disability, from physical conditions or disfigurement to mental illnesses and psychological problems, can be considered unlawful. Such conditions may affect or limit an individual’s capability to perform some of his duties, but, it is still illegal for employers to treat their employees differently due to their disability
  • Gender identity / sexual orientation: When your employer is treating you differently based on gender identity or sexual orientation, this constitutes discrimination. Gender discriminationcan affect a person’s chances of being hired, his salary, position, and even future advancements at work. It negatively affects the work environment and is unlawful.
  • Race: Some employers or coworkers treat employees unfairly because of their race, skin color, or nationality. Under California laws (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), employees and applicants are protected from such unfair conduct.
  • Religion: It is against the law for employers to mistreat employees and applicants based on their religious beliefs. Companies and business must also ensure that their policies do not interfere with an employee’s religious practices.
  • Familial status / pregnancy status: Treating pregnant women or caregivers differently because their responsibilities outside of work violates employment law in California.

As an employee or job applicant in California, you are protected by law against any of these conditions. With such protections, an employer will be held accountable for any unfair treatment at work. Aside from the scenarios listed above, other types of unfair treatment can include:

  • Whistleblower retaliation: There are employers who retaliate against employees who report unfair treatment or other criminal activities at work. Under California Labor Code, employees are protected against retaliation.
  • Wage claims: Minimum wage is regulated by The Federal Fair Labor Standard Act. Federal laws also require that men and women in the same job position are given equal compensation. If an employee is earning below minimum wage, he can file a wage claim against his employer.
  • Bullying: While not illegal, bullying is still against most company guidelines. Bullying from any coworker should be reported to the HR department or any supervisor or manager. It is up to the staff and leadership to reinforce zero tolerance, no bullying policy to ensure that this form of unfair treatment at work is stopped. It can be extremely damaging to the victims and often leads to a hostile work environment.


How to Report Unfair Treatment at Work

If you feel you have been a victim of unfair or discriminatory treatment at work, be sure to inform your company’s human resources department. This will start the chain of documentation that will be used if the issue is not resolved internally. If your workplace does not have an HR department because it is a small company, report the unfair treatment to anyone with authority or in upper management.

When documenting incidents or preparing complaints for unfair treatment be sure to:

  • Identify the problem: Keep the complaint focused on the unlawful behavior being conducted by coworkers or leadership.
  • Write down the chronology of events: List down particular scenarios that you believe are instances of unfair treatment in chronological order. Include dates, times, and places of each incident. Include any witnesses and exclude any subjective opinions.
  • Don’t use legal jargon: Using words without a full understanding of their context and meaning can hurt you if the incorrect terminology is used in your complaint. Keep the content of the complaint as simple and direct as possible while only stating facts.
  • Offer a solution: Present what would be an ideal solution to the problem within reason.
  • Avoid threats: Using the threat of lawsuit is never recommended even if there is a pending lawsuit. All this does is discredit you and puts your employer on the defensive.

If it is determined that the unfair treatment qualifies as employment discrimination, then there are 2 appropriate agencies where you can take your complaint.

  • California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

These agencies work together to combat employment discrimination. If you file a complaint with one agency, the other is notified if your complaint is submitted for “cross filing.”


Understand the Law

California decided to offer its employees extra levels of protection by implementing the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. This legislation prohibits employment discrimination against any protected class like age, gender, religion, race, disability, or marital / familial status.  This law also penalizes anyone for retaliating against someone filing a discrimination complaint.


Laws That Protect Workers from Unfair Treatment at Work

To better understand if unfair treatment was illegal, it must be determined if any of the following laws were violated.

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADT)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • Title VII on Workplace Discrimination
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)


What to Do When Treated Unfairly at Work

When being treated unfairly, it is important to make the right decisions to protect your job and rights in the event laws are broken and action needs to be taken.


Document Your Unfair Treatment

Documentation is critical to successfully combatting unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace. Any actions that could be unfair or illegal should be included in this report. This includes:

  • Emails
  • Internal memos
  • Office communications
  • Voicemails
  • Office incidents

It is important to document the days, times, and places that these incidents occurred to better support your unfair treatment in the workplace claim.


Know How to Report Unfair Treatment at Work

Reporting any incidents of unfair treatment at work should be done with the human resources department. This helps create a formal chain of documentation so your employer cannot say they were not aware of the incidents taking place under their supervision. This also indirectly casts a safety net around you as reporting an unfair treatment complaint qualifies you as a “whistleblower.” This makes terminating you after a complaint is filed complicated because this action could easily be deemed employment retaliation which is also illegal and subject to lawsuit.


Stay Away from Social Media

Airing out personal vendettas against companies that have treated you unfairly is never a good idea. These disparaging remarks are visible to the public and can be used against you if you file a claim. They can be used to justify any negative treatment towards you. Even general social media usage can be used against you if there are actions that directly conflict with standards laid out in employment guidelines.


Take Care of Yourself

Unfair treatment can be demoralizing and can severely impact your mental health and self-image. Taking a mental health day or some time off to practice self-care may be a much-needed break from dealing with the stress of an ongoing employment dispute.


Contact an Employment Lawyer

If you have experienced unfair treatment at work and have had a chance to document it in detail, it may be time to consult with an experienced employment lawyer. We can help identify the desired outcomes from the complaint and then find a way to leverage the situation at hand to effectively achieve the desired goal.

  • Do you want to retain the job and just end the unfair treatment?
  • Do you want to leave and negotiate a stronger severance package?
  • Do you want to leave the company and receive damages for unlawful conduct?

Whatever your goals are, hiring one of our employment lawyers is a great way to start the conversation on how to eliminate unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace.


What Happens When You File a Workplace Discrimination Complaint?

When you file an unfair treatment complaint with the EEOC or DFEH, an investigation is opened to determine if your employer had violated any laws related to employment discrimination. If there is enough evidence to support the claim, these agencies will inform both the person who made the claim and the employer on how to proceed. Generally, this is when an individual would be informed to move forward with a private claim for damages incurred from employment discrimination.


Steps Employers can Take to Reduce Unfair Treatment at Work

One of the potential outcomes of an unfair treatment complaint is to improve the workplace and implement strategies designed to eliminate workplace discrimination and unfair treatment. The pressure applied and direction provided by the EEOC and DFEH should help improve procedures, so they mitigate instances of workplace discrimination. These changes should be codified into the employment policies and put into all training and staff handbooks so new employees are aware of these guidelines when they start.


Establish Policies Against Unequal Treatment, Bullying, & Harassment

Employers should have an employee manual that includes a section on discrimination and unfair treatment. A policy that clearly states and defines that the company does not tolerate any type of bullying, harassment, or discrimination must be included in  the employee manual.


Train and Coach Employees

Employees should be made aware of employment policies once they have been adjusted. Employees should also be given free training and be made aware of the process in which unfair treatment complaints are addressed.

  • First time offenses should be resolved informally with the problem being addressed with education.
  • Any on-going violations of these policies will result in an investigation followed by consequences like suspension or termination.


Contact A Mesriani Employment Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you feel you have been a victim of unfair treatment at work, call an employment lawyer to examine your case. The legal team at Mesriani Law Group has years of experience combatting employment discrimination cases and will stand by you in your fight for justice. Call us today for a confidential consultation.


Reporting Unfair Treatment FAQS

What is classified as unfair treatment at work?

Unfair treatment in the workplace can be loosely used to describe any set of actions that is directed at an individual or set of individuals without applying the same treatment to the rest of the staff. This can prompt several complaints related to employment discrimination or creating a hostile work environment.

How do I report unfair treatment at work?

Our team can help you draft a formal employment discrimination complaint for the EEOC. This will open a chain of documentation that will be used if an investigation is opened.

What should I do when my boss treats me unfairly?

To protect yourself when being treated unfairly, be sure to: -Document any instances of unfair treatment - Report the unfair treatment - Follow up any inaction with official complaint to EEOC - Contact an experienced employment lawyer

About the Author
Picture of Rodney Mesriani
Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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