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California city hit with workplace discrimination suit

All good managers and directors know that diversity is the cornerstone of success in modern workplaces, and California has at once one of the largest and most diverse workforces in the world. Cases of workplace discrimination still persist in several industries, however, including legislation and law enforcement.

A recent judgment was upheld by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, hitting a California city with more than $6 million in damages and fees after three Latino police officers filed suit against current and former police chiefs. The case asserted that the officers failed to receive proper promotions and were punished for reporting the problem.

One of the officers was removed from an officer mentorship program after he inquired why a less qualified white candidate was promoted before him. The city claimed the move was a "relatively trivial incident," although a civil jury decided these actions violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

The circuit court denied the city's request for a new trial, judging that the jury reasonably determined the city's actions adversely affected the terms of the officers' employment. Written reprimands and adverse log entries with no or little evidence also weighed against the city in the case.

Workers in all industries deserve fair treatment and protection from discrimination based on gender, race or other nonwork-related reasons. Employees or former employees who believe they or their careers have been the victim of workplace discrimination may consult an attorney to determine the best path forward through settlements, civil actions or other legal tools.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management, "Seemingly Trivial Discipline Leads to Liability Exceeding $6.5M," Megumi Sakae, Dec. 06, 2017

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