Protected classes. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate against applicants or employees based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, age (40 years and older), sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). It includes discrimination based on a perception that a person is a member of a protected class or is associated with a person who is, or is perceived to be, a member of a protected class (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940 et seq.).
The term “race” includes traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. The term “protective hairstyles” includes hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.
FEHA specifically prohibits employers from asking questions about these characteristics, either on an application form or in a job interview, unless the characteristic is related to the applicant's ability to perform the job. FEHA covers employers with five or more employees.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has published a fact sheet to provide employers with guidance relating to preemployment inquiries. The fact sheet provides information on acceptable and unacceptable inquiries and is available on DFEH's website at www.dfeh.ca.gov
Genetic information. Genetic information is a protected characteristic under FEHA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The term "genetic information" is defined as information about:
• An individual's genetic tests;
• The ...