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Employees faced with discrimination face tough choices

The employee/employer relationship works best when it is based on a mutual feeling of respect with an understanding both have a shared interest in the success of the business endeavor. Of course there will be some areas of conflict, often regarding the issues of compensation, benefits, and working conditions that the employees think unfair, but these typically impact most or all employees and can be dealt with collectively as a group. However, when a California worker believes he or she is singled out as an individual and treated unfairly, there may be a legal remedy based on why the employer acted in the alleged manner.

Although there are California laws regarding the subject matter, most aggrieved employees consider filing a lawsuit under Federal law as well. In most cases, both suits are filed simultaneously and proceed on parallel but separate tracks. Legal experts report that Federal law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. The discrimination involves unfair treatment in hiring, firing, or working conditions, in which the individual is treated differently than other similarly situated employees.

Based on the government's investigation or evidence presented in court, a successful plaintiff may be entitled to various remedies designed to place the individual back in the same position as if the unfair treatment had not occurred. For example, a reinstatement after firing, a placement in a position that was denied, or monetary compensation, possibly including attorney's fees, are all possible remedies based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

In a practical sense, however, many victims of discrimination are reluctant to file a lawsuit against their employer because they fear some form of retaliation. Although this also is against the law, it often deters action by a worker. An employment lawyer might offer advice and counsel based on the facts of a specific case.

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