In a recent decision, the California Supreme Court has stated that third-party businesses that perform employment-related tasks for other companies, such as job applicant screenings, can be held liable for discrimination under state law.
Among the court, it was unanimously held that because state law defines the term "employer" to include an employer's "agents," workers can then sue third-party businesses for independently discriminating applicants.
The case that started the debate involved claims that U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, which contracts with employers to conduct medical screenings of their job applicants, asked intrusive questions prohibited by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
According to the lawsuit, the hiring company had asked job applicants to list the prescriptions they take, including birth control, and whether they are pregnant or have ever suffered a job injury. Many potential employees who were denied a job opportunity felt that their rejection was based on the illegal and discriminating criteria that the hiring agency was using.
California’s FEHA prohibits employers from making medical inquiries unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. Regarding whether other entities involved in the hiring process can ask such questions, the law defines "employer" to include "any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly."
Initially, a California federal judge ruled that U.S. HealthWorks did not qualify as an employer under the law and dismissed the case. However, the office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an amicus brief backing the plaintiffs last year, stating that had state lawmakers intended to exempt all agents from liability, they would have created an explicit exception in the FEHA, which has been amended several times over the last six decades.
Regardless of who handled your job application process in California, if you feel that you were denied employment based on discriminatory reasons, contact Morgan & Morgan today to learn how you can get justice.
As the largest personal injury law firm in the country, Morgan & Morgan’s Employment Law Group fights for victims of labor discrimination with offices in every state and a network of over 900 attorneys. If an employer or third-party hiring company used discriminatory questions or methods that violate the labor laws of California, don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation and can hold the guilty parties accountable for their wrongdoing.