The California Fair Employment and Housing (“FEHA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. In order to prove a claim for discrimination claim under the FEHA, a plaintiff must demonstrate that they were performing competently in their position, they suffered an adverse employment action, such as a termination, demotion or denial of an available job, and the circumstances suggest a discriminatory motive. Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc.(2000) 24 Cal.4th 317.
Certainly, discrimination may be proven through direct evidence. However, in today’s world its rare to find a “smoking gun” directly pointing to discrimination. More commonly, where there is no direct evidence of a discriminatory motive, a plaintiff can seek to prove their claim through “circumstantial evidence”. Circumstantial evidence is non-direct evidence that is nevertheless sufficient enough to raise an inference of discrimination. If a plaintiff can indirectly establish an inference of discrimination then the employer must demonstrate a nondiscriminatory justification for the conduct or face liability.