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Brandon, Esq.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1949
Experience:  Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
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I work at a large dept store in Northern Calif. I work on

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I work at a large dept store in Northern Calif. I work on a team of 5-6 including the Team Lead and perform price chgs through out the store. 3 of the team members are Hispanic and once a week I work with them without the team lead being present. When that happens I have been ignored by the 3 hispanic team members who go over the daily work load in spanish excluding me from the conversation, then will leave me standing there not knowing what to do or where they went. I told one of the girls that I needed her to come up and tell me what was going on-for her to remind the other girls that I do not speak spanish and that I was getting a little annoyed that they continuelly do this to me. ( I have been putting up with this type of behavior for approx. 3 years now, and mgmt knows it's happening) This day I decided again to go to mgmt with the problem. We have had a new store manager for about 1 year-and since this was just starting to happen again-I needed them to help me put a stop to it. After talking with the store manager-she told me she was going to make a few calls and get back with me. The next day I wanted to talk with my team lead and excecutive team
about what transpired the day before and the conversation I had with the store manager. When I told them that I didn't care that the 3 girls spoke spanish on the floor-it was the exclusion of me from the team. The excecutive team lead said he knew that this behavior was going on before he came to this store and that he would be talking with the store manager and would get back with me. I waited a few days I approached my team lead who said there really wasn't anything they could do about them speaking spanish on the floor. I told her that wasn't my conplaint-it was the fact that time after time they would exclude me from work related issues pretaining to the work load by them speaking spanish and not coming to tell me in English what was happening. She said she would get back to me, and did understand my concerns. Since that time I was sitting in the break room when one of my co-workers told me she heard from one of the hispanic Team members, that they (the 3 girls from my team) was called into the office by the excutive team lead and he told them that someone had complained about them speaking spanish on the floor-that it made that person very uncomfortable-and that she didn't like it at all that someone would do that. I sat there surprised that it had even gotten out-and that the wrong info was given out. When I went to the store manager regarding this conversation she said she would get with the excutive team lead to find out if he did talk with them-because it was her understanding nothing was done yet. He was supposed to gather all of us in the office for a converstion about not being fast, fun and friendly by exclusion in the work place. She was also surprised that this girl already knew what was going on and that the only people who knew about it was members of mgnt and me. The meeting is tomorrow. After 3 years of a hostile work invironment, prejudice and exclusion and favoritism-I haven't yet told you of that-I need to know what my next steps would be. Do I file a claim with labor relations or do I continue to let the store handle-or mishandle this situation. Thank you-Jackie Kathriner [email protected]

SavyLawyer :

Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer. Give me just a moment to review your question.


JACUSTOMER-jbo5r4s7- :


SavyLawyer :

I'm sorry, I am now seeing that this is a California employment law issue, and the website has a specific section for California Employment Law. I am therefore going to opt-out of the question and request that the question be switched to California Employment Law. Please be patient, as it may take a little time for the question to be transferred.


JACUSTOMER-jbo5r4s7- :

Are you going to switch it over?

SavyLawyer :

I am going to request that it be switched, yes.


JACUSTOMER-jbo5r4s7- :

It's been a while-is anyone going to answer?

I am sorry to hear about your situation at work. I can imagine how difficult it is to work under those circumstances.

Generally, the law protects employees from workplace harassment under situations where the harassment is based on a protected category such as race, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. In this situation, you would have to prove that they were actively (not passively) discriminating against you because of your race.


Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (a federal law), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act as well as the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866 all have language that states that discrimination based on language constitutes racial discrimination. However, the case to date specifically states that it must be employer that is the one doing the discriminating, and not fellow employees.

Unfortunately, the laws do not protect employees form other employees who engage in conduct such as your fellow employees. While their conduct is without question inappropriate, it does not appear unlawful as there is no adverse employment action taken against you to date.

I wish I could tell you that you have legal recourse against them for speaking in Spanish, however, until there is an actual adverse employment action taken against you, this does not constitute harassment in this situation.

That being said, if you are terminated or written up as a result of your complaint, then you absolutely have grounds to file a claim against them for retaliation. Further if you can point to an adverse employment action taken against you, then you may have grounds. Under these situations, you should file a claim with the EEOC and California Labor Board or contact an employment attorney in your area.

If you decide to hire an attorney, a great resource is This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.

Good Luck!

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What about confidentiality in this circumstance with a member of mgmt telling the co-worker who started the problem what was supposed to be in strick confidence until meetings were to take place. And within our store, there are 2 nationalities-the "whites" and the "Hispanics" and if you say anthing about anything the Hispanics start rumors and create a hostile work environment. It gets to the point that I literally get sick to my stomach just knowing I have to go to work there and nothing is getting done-including by mgmt.

Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that a report to an employer is confidential. Unless there is a company policy preventing disclosure, there is no claim simply because they told. However, most employers choose to not tell anyone else as it could be used as a fact against the employer later on. In this case, because the employer has done this, they have opened themselves up for a claim for retaliation if the abuse is heightened as a result. In California, employment attorney's take things on contingency in that they get attorneys fees under statute if they win. This means that they would give you a free consultation, and not take a percentage of your winnings if you were to file a lawsuit. You should contact an attorney in your area to discuss all of the harassment that has occurred since the date of your report to determine if you have a cause of action. If you have enough facts that you are being retaliated against (harassed in this case) as a result of the fact that your employer disclosed your name, then you can file a complaint with the department of fair employment and housing (DFEH) under the Fair Employment and housing act (FEHA). Under these facts, you would file a claim for discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Again, the best thing you can do is contact an employment attorney in your area to discuss the kinds of harassment that have occurred as a result of your report. Given your last statement that the employers have a history of doing nothing, and in fact, are the cause of making things worse, you may very well have a claim in this instance.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1949
Experience: Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
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