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Riverside County Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment Lawyer For Employers > Proposed California State Senate Bill Seeks to Recognize “”Intersectionality”” Approach for Workplace Discrimination Claims

Proposed California State Senate Bill Seeks to Recognize “”Intersectionality”” Approach for Workplace Discrimination Claims


In February 2024, California State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas introduced a bill that seeks to recognize “”intersectionality”” in the ‘state’s employment discrimination laws. Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137) would introduce new language into the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that would specify that the law “”includes discrimination not just because of one protected trait, but also because of the intersection of 2 or more protected bases.” Here, our Riverside County employment attorney provides an overview of the proposed legislation.

Intersectionality: Understanding the Basics 

As a starting point, it is useful to understand what the term “intersectionality” means in this context. Broadly explained, intersectionality is a conceptual framework that recognizes how different aspects of biological, social, and political identities—like race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, and class—intersect and overlap. Identity is complex. A person could potentially endure bias and discrimination on multiple fronts. As an example, an employee at an office who is an African American female may be subject to a unique and specific form of bias in the workplace that is related to both her racial identity and her sex/gender.

An Overview of SB 1137 (Proposed Law) 

Senate Bill 1137 proposed to make California the first jurisdiction in the United States to both recognize and formally incorporate the concept of “”intersectionality”” in its employment laws. Employers will deal with the big implications of such a significant change in employment laws. The bill seeks to amend:

  1. The Unruh Civil Rights Act; and
  2. Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

If passed in its current form, SB 1137 would clarify that protections extend not only to individual characteristics—such as race, gender, age, and LGBTQ statutes—but also to the intersection of multiple characteristics within a single identity. In touting the bill, Senator Smallwood-Cuevas emphasizes that people may also face unique biases stemming from the combination of their identities.

 Employers Should Be Aware of Any Changes to California Employment Law

SB 1137 is still a long way from becoming law in California. The proposed bill must pass the state senate, state house of representatives, and get the signature from the governor. ,However, it has received support from some important state representatives. Our law firm will keep a close watch on this proposed legislation and any other legal developments that may affect the rights and responsibilities of employers. California has enacted many labor and employment reforms in recent years. All businesses and organizations should be aware of their current obligations.

Call Our Riverside County Employment Lawyer for Employers Today

At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment attorney has the professional expertise that you can rely on. If you have any questions about preventing workplace discrimination claims or defending a workplace discrimination claim, please do not hesitate to contact us today for a confidential case review. We provide representation to employers throughout California.



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