Proving Gender Discrimination in the California Workplace

Proving Gender Discrimination in the California Workplace

California law protects against gender discrimination in the workplace. Gender discrimination often victimizes women, but men can suffer from gender discrimination too. In general, discrimination in the workplace is any sort of unfair or unequal treatment of an employee because of the employee’s “protected characteristic” like race, national origin, gender, or sex. Employers that engage in gender discrimination can be sued in state and federal courts and brought to justice. Substantial money damages can be recovered by victims of gender discrimination. In this article, we briefly discuss some of the basics about how gender discrimination is proven in California courts and what kinds of evidence can be collected to help prove your case. Note that a different type of gender discrimination claim can be brought based on a “hostile work environment.” That is discussed in a different article.

If you have been the victim of gender discrimination, it is imperative that you consult with experienced gender discrimination attorneys like the ones at Guardian Litigation Group. We have deep experience in obtaining justice for our clients in both State and federal courts.

How a California gender discrimination case proceeds

Gender discrimination cases in California follow a two-step process. The first part of the case involves establishing what is called a prima facia case of discrimination. In this phase, the burden is placed on the plaintiff — the person bringing the lawsuit to vindicate their rights — to provide sufficient evidence to establish the prima facie case. Generally, these legal elements must be proven:

  • Employee was in a protected class such as gender or sex
  • Employee suffered an “adverse employment action” — such as being denied a promotion, receiving less compensation than a similarly-situated other employee, etc.
  • Because of the employee’s membership in a protected class
  • Employee was a “qualified person” — that is, the employee was qualified for the promotion that was denied, qualified for the pay scale, etc.

What type of evidence can be used to prove the prima facie case?

There are many types of evidence that can be used to prove the prima facie case. First, there are numerous types of direct evidence such as a statement from a supervisor that the victim was denied the promotion because of their gender. Second, there are indirect forms of evidence like showing that only males, for example, received promotions to certain job categories or statistical evidence showing disparate gender impacts of the employer’s hiring, promotion or compensation policies. Often, discrimination cases turn on showing that better treatment was given to similarly-situation employees who were not in the victim’s protected class.

What is the second step in the litigation?

Once the victim has proven the prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the employer to prove that the “adverse employment” decision was made or justified on non-discriminatory grounds. For example, the employer might argue that a person was not promoted because of excessive absenteeism or chronic tardiness. The employer might present evidence like time records, direct testimony from supervisors or other employees or other evidence substantiating the claim of excessive absenteeism or chronic tardiness.

At this point in the case, the parties are fully engaged in the factual issues that must be resolved by the jury or the judge.

Contact Experienced California Employment Discrimination and Harassment Attorneys

For more information or if you have been the victim of employment discrimination and/or harassment, contact our Irvine discrimination attorneys at Guardian Litigation Group. We have the tools and legal experience necessary to protect you and bring your employer to justice. Our Mission is to provide unparalleled legal services for our clients. We can be reached via our contact page or by phone at (949) 444-5474.