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Protecting workers against workplace discrimination

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Californians have the right to be employed and not fear that they will be discriminated against based on their age, gender, sex, skin color, race, nationality, disability or pregnancy. In fact, there are many laws that specifically prohibit certain behaviors. Employers as well as employees should become familiar with what is being done to combat workplace discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes what is considered discrimination as it relates to employment. Harassment is strictly forbidden in a work environment. Whether supervisors, co-workers or third parties carry it out, the general or sexual harassment of a person while in a workplace-related situation is illegal. Also, a person cannot engage in harassing behaviors to retaliate against another person who is alleging discrimination.

Additionally, discrimination at any level of the employment process is not acceptable. This includes when a person is going through the application and pre-employment process. A prospective employer cannot even discriminate while advertising for a job position. Plus, management cannot show prejudicial treatment when organizing working conditions or making decisions associated with training, benefits and salary, job referrals, promotion, discipline, firings or layoffs. Moreover, if an employee makes reasonable requests for certain arrangements, an employer must attempt to accommodate. An example of this is when a person needs to make adjustments to a dress code due to religious beliefs. 

It is also important to note that there are additional regulations for California companies, according to Golden State Risk Management. The requirements apply to firms that have an employee count of five or more. These organizations are obligated to provide harassment training to supervisors and keep documentation of it for at least two years. Furthermore, employees must receive training on what harassment and abuse entails, as well as how they are prevented and reported. This includes a description of the protected categories as is defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Finally, this information must be included in a written anti-discrimination policy that is distributed to all employees.

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