I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.
I would agree with you that based on your description of the company, a red flag has been raised suggesting that there is covert racism going on, which in CA is against the law and constituted discrimination under both federal laws and state laws.
I've been a licensed CA attorney for nearly 3 decades, and for two of those, I have handled employment discrimination law and litigated cases against employers. Your description of the situation seems to indicate that there may be discrimination going on based on your race/national origin. And yes you do have an avenue through which you may challenge this situation. The state and federal government will actually do the investigation for you---all you need do is initiate the complaints.
CA law prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace and you do have a legal remedy.
Workplace harassment/discrimination is any unwelcome or unwanted conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or an aversion toward another person on the basis of any characteristic protected by law, which includes an individual's race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law. A conduct is considered unwelcome if the employee did not solicit, instigate or provoke it, and the employee regards XXXXX XXXXX as undesirable or offensive.
In CA you have two possible avenues of approach to dealing with discrimination. If your goal is to ultimately sue in Federal Court, then you will file a complaint with the EEOC, and if you want to be in the CA Superior Court---local to your county---then you will file with the DFEH and, if you want to, with the EEOC as well. You must file a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act, and within one year for the CA DFEH.
You may a formal complaint with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging discrimination based on your race and/or national origin.
To do this you must first make an appointment with the Department to be interviewed, either over the phone or at a local DFEH office. You may call the DFEH at(NNN) NNN-NNNN or apply on line by using the Department’s "Online Appointment System." The system will guide you through questions to determine whether an appointment is right for you.
Alternatively, you may file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If your company has 15 or more employees (the DFEH only requires that there be 5 or more employees), they are prohibited from discriminating against you. To file a complaint with the EEOC, contact the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. To be automatically connected with the nearest office, call(NNN) NNN-NNNN EEOC website: www.eeoc.gov
Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination, based upon the Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex and Disability of an individual, with regard to hiring, promotion and firing.
After you file the complaint, your employer will be prohibited from any retaliatory action against you. The EEOC will investigate your claim, and 180 days after the filing of the complaint you may ask for a "right to sue letter". The EEOC will issue you the letter which gives you the right to institute a private civil action against your employer and seek monetary damages.
You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert
link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Kindly take a moment to rate my service to you highly, based on the understanding of the law I provided
. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust you agree that it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.
I wish you the best in 2012,