A Forbes survey found that 70% of respondents have faced discrimination or abuse in their place of work. Almost 9 out of 10 Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) workers had experienced it.
Here’s the alarming truth about this discrimination in the workplace. In the same poll, 6 out of 10 of those Gen-Zers said it keeps them from being productive or engaged. Discrimination and abuse in the workplace affect workers, but it also impacts a company’s bottom line. In many cases, taking immediate action to correct violations of a worker’s rights can help companies save money and avoid lawsuits.
We’re only four months into 2022. Already there are several discrimination cases in California’s court system. Some are being settled, others are heating up for trials. Here are the top 10 workplace discrimination cases of 2022.
#1 – Racial Discrimination at Tesla
Nine discrimination lawsuits were filed against Tesla in February. This isn’t the first time Telsa has faced workplace discrimination complaints. In 2021, the company paid $137 million for damages to a Black worker who was subjected to racial abuse and discrimination.
One of the new cases was filed by a Black single mother who landed a job in assembly. After filing a complaint about derogatory treatment, she watched several of the people she trained get promoted over her. Three years after accepting the job, she was fired for accidentally hitting a sprinkler head while driving a forklift, something several other drivers had done in the past and never faced discipline.
Another woman was subjected to derogatory slurs and discrimination after co-workers found out she had a wife. When she complained, she would get moved to a different department, where the discrimination continued. She soon had to do the work that other workers were allowed to do in teams.
When she took a month’s leave for chronic stress, she learned from HR that she was being investigated for threatening someone on the day shift, only she worked the night shift. She ended up being moved again and eventually quit due to the continued insults and mistreatment.
In all, there are currently almost four dozen lawsuits filed against the company for racial and gender discrimination.
#2 – Sexual Harassment at Activision Blizzard
A settlement against game developer Activision Blizzard was reached in March. Several women had been subjected to sexual harassment or pregnancy discrimination. When women complained, they would end up with no jobs.
The court settlement creates an $18 million fund for those claimants if they waive the right to join the Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit from 2021.
#3 – Sexual Harassment at Chipotle
In 2019 and 2020, two employees quit Chipotle after experiencing repeated sexual harassment. While the harassment cases happened in Washington, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed federal violations against the California-based company. One of the crew members in a complaint was allowed to return to work, where he confronted those who had filed complaints against him. Those workers felt unsafe and quit.
#4 – Retaliation in Los Angeles County’s Fire Prevention Bureau
As much as $3 million is being paid to settle a 2017 lawsuit filed by several firefighters who witnessed corner-cutting and improper safety inspections by fire inspectors. When they spoke up, they were retaliated against. One was moved to a different station, leading to a salary reduction of $50,000.
#5 – Seven Lawsuits Against the Orange County District Attorney
Seven women have filed lawsuits against the Orange County DA. The latest four cases are women who all worked under the DA when one of his best friends sexually harassed them. Despite their reports of the harassment, he promoted his friend, allowing that friend to retire with full benefits.
#6 – PG & E Discrimination and Retaliation Complaint
A substation supervisor for PG & E filed a discrimination lawsuit against the utility company for discrimination. This is the second case filed against the company.
The first lawsuit was filed by a female worker who was fired after filing a racial discrimination complaint. The new lawsuit claims racial discrimination led to his complaint, and that led to a hostile work environment and denial of promotions. In one of the promotions he applied for, a woman with no experience with substations was given the job instead.
#7 – Riverside County Disability Discrimination and Wrongful Death Case
A family filed a lawsuit against Riverside County about a year after their loved one died from COVID-19. The man had diabetes and respiratory disease. He requested accommodations and the chance to work from home, all of which were denied. When masks were mandated, his supervisors didn’t require the use of masks or social distancing in the workplace. He and several other workers contracted COVID-19 in the office. He passed away about two months later.
#8 – Los Angeles Community College Disability Discrimination
Five years ago, two students filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College. The two students were blind and the college failed to provide Braille or audio recordings of educational materials. The college claimed that this wasn’t an intentional act and therefore not a violation of federal laws.
In March, the college decided to drop plans to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the college agreed to an unnamed settlement.
#9 – Playstation Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
A former IT security expert at PlayStation filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in November claiming wrongful termination. PlayStation asked the courts to throw out the lawsuit.
However, more women have come forward with similar complaints. Ten workers in Rancho Bernardo, California, are mentioned as having quit after a program manager left due to gender bias, pregnancy discrimination, and refusal of HR to take action.
#10 – Google Discrimination Lawsuit
A former Google employee filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit in March. The class-action suit involves a worker who was there from 2014 to 2020. The worker reports that the company hired Black employees for positions below their experience levels, which led to pay rates that were lower than co-workers of equal skill and education.
In addition, the interviewing managers would ask Black applicants harder questions than others to ensure they didn’t do as well in interviews. After the employee spoke up about the discriminatory, unfair practices, she was warned and eventually fired.
Don’t Stay Silent
Workplace discrimination isn’t something you have to deal with. Report it to your HR department or the person listed in your employee manual. If that doesn’t help, escalate the matter. Report most workplace discrimination complaints with California’s Department of Fair Housing Standards. If you’re being retaliated against due to a health or safety complaint at work, reach out to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Alternately, talk to an attorney specializing in workplace discrimination. Shegerian Conniff specializes in California employment law. You do not have to quit your job over unfair treatment in the workplace. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights in the workplace.