Thursday, October 29, 2009

Civil Rights issue spotting -Part I

I attended a Civil Rights Spotting Training couple of weeks ago. It was arranged by Santa Clara County Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association of Northern California and Asian Law Caucus. Veena Dubal, Staff Attorney, Asian Law Caucus was the speaker.

The information provided was too valuable to pass. I thought I will pass it on!

The training covered following topics: Employment Discrimination Law, Civil Rights in Schools, Rights and Laws at the U. S. Border and Rights and Laws in relationship to law enforcement.

1. Employment Discrimination laws. Federal law, Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, religion and pregnancy. American with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on the basis of disability. Age Discrimination Employment Act prohibits discrimination based on age (40+). State law in California, Fair Employment & Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity (including transgender status), medical condition, pregnancy or marital status.

All anti-discrimination laws do not apply always. Title VII applies when employer has 15 employees. ADA applies when employer has 15 employees. ADEA applies when employer has 20 employees. FEHA applies when employer has 5 employees.

Not all forms of discrimination/harassment are illegal. Discrimination is being treated unfairly because of proscribed factors. Harassment is when boss, supervisor or co-worker says or does something that creates a hostile, intimidating or threatening work environment.

The forms of discrimination are religious discrimination or language discrimination. Anyone who feels they are being discriminated should keep a journal to document wrongful conduct and keep paper trail. File an employment discrimination claim with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Dept of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) & cross-file. Statutory limits to file with EEOC is 300 days unless govt. employee (then it is 45 days) and with DFEH is 1 year.

In Northern California, help is available through the Employment Law Center (, Project SURVIVE: Domestic Violence and Employment Helpline 888-864-8335, Language Rights Helpline 800-864-1664 (for language discrimination issues. "English only rules"), Unemployment and Wages Claims Helpline at 415-864-8070 and Work and Family Helpline 800-880-8047 for Family and Medical Leave issues.

.......................more later!!! Stay tuned!