A new report by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that California is third in the nation for complaints of workplace discrimination with 7.2 percent of all charges filed for workplace discrimination in the country taking place within the state.

Under California laws, employers cannot discriminate against their employees. These employment laws protect employees from discrimination based on a variety of factors. For example, employers cannot discriminate based on race, age, sexual orientation, medical condition, marital status or disability.

The law prevents these types of discrimination, among others, in all aspects of employment, including hiring an employee, firing an employee, negotiations for pay and in everyday on-the-job situations.

According to the new EEOC report, many of the workplace discrimination claims in California have been in areas which the law protects from discrimination. Nearly one-third of the claims were due to discrimination based on the employee’s race. Employees also filed complaints based on age, gender and disability discrimination.

Furthermore, 45 percent of all the complaints documented in this report claim the employees experienced retaliation from their employers when they complained about the discrimination they were experiencing. Retaliation occurs when an employee suffers negative consequences, including termination, for speaking up about a wrongdoing in the workplace. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who are brave enough to speak up.

As is evidenced by this new EEOC report, workplace discrimination is occurring in California, despite the laws protecting employees. When workplace discrimination occurs, employees have options. Those employees that have experienced workplace discrimination may be entitled to compensation for their emotional distress. They may also be able to get a promotion, be reinstated in their position or receive back pay, front pay and other damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “California ranks high for workplace discrimination complaints,” Tiffany Hsu, May 17, 2012