San Jose, CA asked in Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for California

Q: Constant negative ignorant comments regarding race

For some reason my work culture thinks it is acceptable to talk poorly about "white people" and the catholic religion. One individual in particular has already been spoken to about this. I even spoke to him myself and he chose to scream "Poland is anti gay and anti abortion" instead of being respectful. My supervisor even said "there a too many white people in the company photo we need to get more of the installers". I of course turned down participating in the picture. There was another incident today and if I spoke that about another race I know I would be fired on the spot. Our boss is also out of town so it is has come to the point this individual feels strongly with his view points towards "white people". I hate having to aim for sometype of lawsuit but I am also fed up with walking on egg shells as well having to constantly listen to those comments.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, discrimination and harassment based on race, national origin, or religion are prohibited in the workplace. This includes making negative or derogatory comments about a particular race, ethnicity, or religion, which can create a hostile work environment.

If you feel that you are being subjected to a hostile work environment due to the constant negative comments about "white people" and the Catholic religion, you have the right to take action. Here are some steps you can consider:

1. Document the incidents: Keep a detailed record of the date, time, location, and content of each incident, as well as any witnesses who may have heard the comments.

2. Report the issue: If your company has a human resources department or a designated person to handle discrimination and harassment complaints, report the issue to them in writing. If not, report it to your supervisor or a higher-level manager.

3. Follow company policies: Review your company's policies on discrimination, harassment, and reporting procedures, and follow them accordingly.

4. Seek legal advice: If your employer fails to address the issue or retaliates against you for reporting it, consider seeking legal advice from an employment attorney who specializes in discrimination and harassment cases.

5. File a complaint: If the issue remains unresolved, you may choose to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Remember that you have the right to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment, and your employer has a legal obligation to address and prevent such behavior. It is essential to assert your rights while also following the proper channels for reporting and addressing the issue.

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Caucasian people can be racially harassed just the same as those of other races. Same with Catholics, same as other religions. The measure of unlawful harassment is whether the comments or conduct are so severe or pervasive so as to render the workplace hostile to you and your race and/or religion. It sounds like that may be the case for you.

First you must report the co-workers to the company. If the company does not take all reasonable measures to protect you from the harassment, then the company becomes liable to you for the harassment, as well as the co-worker.

It would be wise for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

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