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National Summary
Federal fair employment laws protect employees from discrimination based on age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information. Federal law covers employers of 15 or more employees, except for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which covers employers with 20 or more employees. State laws often cover employers with fewer employees and provide protection for groups not covered under federal law. Certain individuals in the workplace, such as independent contractors, are not protected by federal fair employment laws if they are not employees. Employers are liable for discriminatory acts by supervisors—in some cases, strictly liable. There are many preventive measures an employer can take to reduce the probability of being sued for discrimination. Civil rights laws also impose numerous recordkeeping requirements on employers.
California Summary
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against applicants, employees, unpaid interns, and volunteers based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition (specifically cancer-related conditions and genetic characteristics), genetic information, marital status, sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, gender expression, age (40 years and older), sexual orientation, or military and veteran status. 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.
The state Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) prohibits discrimination based on sex (including sexual harassment), race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability (including the use of guide dogs), medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation in business practices or franchising, among other things.

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