Mexican workers continue to face discrimination and harassment in California’s workplaces. Week after week, our office receives calls from employees of Mexican descent who have been treated poorly or unlawfully terminated. Whether the harassment occurs in an executive suite, a retail environment, a construction site, or some other type of workplace, discrimination against Mexicans is unlawful.
This page was written to discuss workplace discrimination against workers of Mexican descent as it relates to California law. If you believe you’ve been the target of discrimination, wrongful termination, or harassment, contact our office for a free consultation. Branigan Robertson is an employment attorney that represents workers seeking justice.
What the Law Says About Discrimination Against Mexicans
While there are multiple laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and harassment, lawyers in California often rely on the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Section 12940 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee based on, among other traits, race, color, national origin, and ancestry.
The law specifically states that an employer cannot:
“…refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”Government Code § 12940(a)
There are times when hispanic folks call us to discuss what they believe is a hostile work environment, but will hesitate to say they are experiencing discrimination based on their national origin, ancestry or skin color. No matter their color or national origin, most reasonable people are reluctant to “play the race card.”
However, if you are a Mexican employee who feels you are being treated differently than your non-Mexican coworkers, don’t hesitate to tell our office this is happening. Discrimination and harassment can take many different forms and can include:
- Inappropriate jokes
- Overgeneralizing language (“You people” remarks)
- Unwanted political discussions
- Derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants
- Refusal to promote
- Micromanagement (compared to non-Mexican employees)
- Exclusion from company events
- Other behaviors
If you want to read more about California’s discrimination law in general, click here. If you want to read about discrimination against hispanic workers, click here.
Types of Compensation Available for Employees
When it comes to participating in a lawsuit for discrimination or harassment, there are a lot of things can happen between the time the suit is filed, and the case is concluded. Often, this process takes years. That’s why no good attorney will predict how much money a person will win after filing a discrimination lawsuit. We can only discuss in a general way the different types of compensation available. These include:
Lost Wages – Damages are calculated based on the amount an employee was making at the time of a unlawful termination. If a wrongfully terminated employee is making $60,000 when fired, and is unable to find work for three years, that employee might be awarded their annual salary for each year without work. In this example, that totals $180,000 in lost wages.
Pain and Suffering – These types of damages are determined following testimony from medical and mental health professionals. Pain and suffering can include insomnia, anxiety, depression, loss of identity, migraines, and other mental or physical ailments stemming from workplace discrimination.
Punitive Damages – While these damages are exceedingly rare, they can result in awards of $10 million and more. In order to receive punitive damages, the employee must convince a jury that the discrimination they experienced was committed with fraud, malice or oppression—a very high legal standard.
If you are of Mexican origin or descent and you truly believe you are the victim of unlawful discrimination, call our office for a free consultation. Lawyers like Mr. Robertson take cases on a contingency fee and offer free consultations.