How Can an Employer Defend Themselves Against Allegations of Workplace Discrimination?
Employers in California can be faced with allegations of workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, age, marital status, and other protected characteristics. Claims of workplace discrimination must be taken seriously. If you are facing allegations of workplace discrimination, it is vital that you consult an experienced employment attorney. Several defenses may be available for use in your case. A skilled attorney can help you identify the defenses available in your case and develop a strong defense strategy.
Below we discuss some potential defenses to allegations of workplace discrimination in California.Defense #1: Bona Fide Occupational Qualification
This defense exists under section 703 (e)(1) of Title VII. According to the law, in some rare circumstances, an individual’s religion, sex, or national origin may be reasonably necessary for a particular job. You are allowed to assert this defense if a bona fide occupational qualification was legitimately the reason you made the decision that hurt the plaintiff. For example, the bona fide occupational qualification defense may apply if you did not hire an applicant because you have a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all workers of a specific sex cannot safely and effectively perform the job duties.Defense #2: Business Necessity
Suppose an employer’s practice that seems neutral disproportionately harms people of a protected class. In such a case, workers may sue for disparate impact discrimination. If your practice is found to have such an impact, you can avoid liability if you can prove that the challenged discriminatory practice is required by “business necessity.” To prove business necessity, you must provide evidence that shows your employment and hiring practices are strictly related to job performance.Defense #3: Employee Job Performance
If, for example, you fired an employee who falls into one or more protected classes because of the employee’s job performance, you may have a valid defense against the discrimination claims. As an employer, you have the right to discharge an employee who does not meet the standards of performance required or cannot function in the manner expected. This is true even if the employee falls into one or more protected classes.
To establish this defense, you need documentation of the employee’s performance reviews, warnings, attendance rates, and other evidence showing poor performance.Defense #4: Breach of Contract
If, for example, you fired an employee based on contractual violations, you may have a valid defense against the allegations. This defense may also be available for use in your case if you took adverse employment action against an employee based on another employment-related contract.Defense #5: Reasonable Factor Other Than Age
Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), this defense is available for disparate impact claims. It is available for claims that policies that appear facially neutral have a substantially greater impact on older workers than on younger workers. For instance, this defense may apply to a neutral test, such as a physical fitness test used to screen workers, if that test had a disparate impact on an older worker.Contact a Skilled Employment Attorney in San Francisco
If you are facing allegations of workplace discrimination in California and need legal help, contact an experienced employment attorney in San Francisco at SAC Attorneys LLP. We can help you develop a strong defense strategy that can help you fight the claims.