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Tina, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
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I live and work in San Francisco, California. There are three

Resolved Question:

I live and work in San Francisco, California. There are three employees. Myself and another co-worker are part-time and the third co-worker is full-time. The full time worker gets full health benefits fully paid by our employer, while the other part-time worker gets reimbursed for 2/3's of her cost of her own individual health insurance. Although I have worked there the longest and am more experienced than the other two workers, my boss refuses to reimburse me for any health care insurance. As a matter of fact, when he decided to start reimbursing the other part-time worker part of her health insurance costs, he not only refused to partly reimburse me for health insurance costs, but he also refused to give me any type of raise saying that he couldn't afford it. Can he do this?
I also feel like I am being discriminated against as I am not fluent in a specific foreign language. We do not have an "employee manual" nor do we have any contracts - we are "at will" employees. Do I have any legal recourse with the DFEH in our state? Thanks!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
The FEHA prohibits discrimination based on Age, Ancestry, Color, Religious Creed, Denial of Family and Medical Care Leave, Disability, Marital Status, Medical Condition, National Origin, Race, Religion, Sex, and Sexual Orientation.

Not being fluent in a specific foreign language is not a protected basis for alleging discrimination under state law typically.

If the other employees are of a different national origin, race, or ancestry, then that could provide a basis for alleging discrimination under state law.

Or, if you are 40 or older and the other part-time employee who is reimbursed part of her health care costs is significantly younger, that would provide a basis for alleging age discrimination under the Act normally.

If none of these protections apply, then the employer is not violating state law and the conduct is permitted even though it may be discriminatory unfortunately.

If you have reason to believe the employer is violating the state law protections, then your recourse involves filing a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission since the owner is the one involved in the discriminatory conduct and filing a complaint with the employer would likely be futile.

Here is a link to file a complaint:

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Thank you for your reply. I do understand the discrimination laws in my state. To be more specific, I work for a Japanese American Insurance Agent. The owner is Japanese American (only speaks English) and the other two co-workers are Japanese Nationals (with Green cards) that are bi-lingual/fluent in both Japanese and English. I am caucasian and do not speak Japanese. I worked there for over 21 years, the full-time worker 20 years and the other part-time worker 5 or 6 years. Also, while my hours and days have been cut back, the other part-time worker was given the opportunity to increase her hours by given an extra work load in which I am more than qualified to do.

I can understand where I feel discriminated, however, I am curious about the legality of benefits for all employees.


I guess my specific question is this: Can my employer pick and choose who he can give benefits to and who he doesn't? That is, putting aside racial discrimination, can my boss legally give benefits to one employee and not the other? Or can you tell me where I can find out this information? Thanks!

Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
Hello again,

The employer is permitted to provide different benefits to employees typically. Most employers do so on based on non-protected classifications such as part-time vs. full-time employees. Otherwise, there is a high risk that a complaint of discrimination will be filed.

Based on the new information you have provided, the employer appears to be favoring employees based on their national origin or ancestory, which are protected classes and for which you should typically file a complaint with the state agency as suggested above.

Tina and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you