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Is my situation considered discrimination?

Los Angeles, CA |

I planned to go on vacation for a few weeks. I got it approved from my manager several months prior, so I went ahead and purchased my tickets. A few months later I was told that my bosses boss planned on replacing me if I took my vacation. The reason being is I played a key role which was critical to the company and I can't be out during that time. I want to keep my job so I canceled and lost a few thousand dollars on my airline tickets. A few moths later, I find out that a coworker of mine who happens to be a director got approved for his vacation. He requested his time off months after I did. The weird thing is our vacations are on the same month. Is there anything I can do? Is this discrimination?

Attorney Answers 3


For discrimination in the workplace to be unlawful, it must be based on a protected class (age over 40, religion, gender, medical condition, race, etc.) To be treated differently with regard to when you can take a vacation is not unlawful discrimination unless you are being targeted because of a characteristic within one of the protected classes.

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The key question is this: was the reason that you were denied vacation discriminatory based on a protected class or activity? Playing a critical role is not such a protected class (i.e. such as disability, gender, race, religion, etc...), and therefore any adverse action as a result is not discriminatory or unlawful.


Arkady Itkkin

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Employment discrimination is against the public policy of California and the United States. Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated.

The only workplace discrimination that is illegal is discrimination that is against public policy. Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. Public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status, pregnancy and genetic information. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, or who exercise voting rights, family leave rights, jury duty rights, domestic violence rights, and a few more rights protected by statute.

An employer cannot refuse to hire, refuse to promote, change terms of employment or fire an employee if the reason for the change is against the law (against public policy). For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. or because you blew the whistle on safety violations

There are various ways to enforce these rights, depending on the particular public policy involved. For more information on discrimination law, please see my Avvo guide on this subject: *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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