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Facebook faces workplace discrimination charges

A lawsuit brought against Facebook for discrimination and harassment may be of concern for California employees in tech industries. On March 16, a former employee of Facebook took the company to court for sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, gender and national origin. She claimed that during her time working for Facebook, from June 2010 to October 2013, she faced sexual harassment and/or discrimination from over 50 other employees.

In the lawsuit, the former Facebook employee attempted to bring 11 charges, including national original discrimination against the technology company. She tried for damages for lost wages and benefits and emotional pain and anguish. She also sought punitive damages and attorney fees in the case. She claims that she was assigned the task of serving drinks to male employees at a company function and that she was punished for taking time off to help at her children's school.

Facebook is the latest technology in a string of tech companies to face charges of workplace discrimination. Similar to Google and Twitter, around 70 percent of Facebook's employees are white men. In response to the former employee's claims, a Facebook spokesperson responded that the company had treated her fairly and was striving to create a more diverse work environment.

California law protects employees from discrimination based on ancestry, age, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and disability. Under anti-discrimination laws, workers who have experienced harassment can file complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. They can sometimes seek damages for back pay, promotion, reinstatement, attorney fees and punitive damages for different forms of harassment. A workplace discrimination attorney may be able to advise clients on whether they can move forward with a criminal or civil discrimination lawsuit.

Source: CNET, "Facebook Facing Litany of Gender, Race Complaints," Nick Statt, March 18, 2015

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