What is employment discrimination?

Employment discrimination occurs when your employer treats you differently or less favorably because of your protected class.

What is considered a protected class under the Fair Employment and Housing Act?

Protected class includes the following:

Race, color

Ancestry, national origin

Religion, creed

Age (40 or older)

Mental or physical disability

Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions)

Sexual orientation

Gender identity, gender expression

Medical condition

Genetic information

Marital status

Military and veteran status

Who is protected under the FEHA?

Under California law, employees and job applicants are protected from employment discrimination based on their protected class.

Who does the FEHA’s prohibition against employment discrimination apply to?

The prohibition against employment discrimination applies to employers of five or more employees. Additionally, the FEHA applies to public and private employers, labor organizations, apprentice training programs, employment agencies, and licensing boards.


However, the application of anti-discrimination laws have some limitations. Under the FEHA, a “religious association or corporation not organized for private profit” is generally exempt from anti-discrimination laws because they are not considered an “employer.”

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident to file a complaint of employment discrimination with the DFEH?

Under the FEHA an individual’s citizenship or immigration status is irrelevant for purposes of filing an employment discrimination lawsuit.

What remedies are available for employment discrimination?

Back pay (past lost earnings)

Front pay (future lost earnings)



Out-of-pocket expenses

Policy changes


Reasonable accommodation(s)

Damages for emotional distress

Punitive damages

Attorney’s fees and costs