Faces of DFEH – Teresa Munguia

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Discrimination based on
national origin, age, and disability

Teresa Munguia was a happy and successful cook for seven years. Everything changed when her new supervisor made derogatory statements about her age, national origin, and physical abilities, fired her, and replaced her with a young white man. Munguia felt humiliated, confused, and betrayed.
What happened to you at work that made you file a complaint with DFEH?

We got a new supervisor who looked down on me. She made negative comments about Latinos and tried to make me feel bad for being me. She made comments about my weight and physical ability to do the job. She mistreated me, scrutinized me, and tried to make me look bad in the kitchen. In the end, she terminated me and replaced me with a younger white man. She also fired the other Latinas in the kitchen.

How did your employer’s treatment affect you?

The experience made me feel terrible. I always had been a joyful person, but I totally changed after they fired me. I lost my energy, felt tremendous sadness, and secluded myself. I had trouble experiencing joy and did not want to move. It was very hard on me.

How was your experience with the DFEH?

DFEH was a pleasant surprise for me. DFEH treated me very well. The lawyer was attentive, treated me with respect, and made me feel protected. DFEH helped me see there can be justice and you can hold people accountable. This made me feel better emotionally. If people knew these services exist, I believe they would feel more comfortable speaking up against injustices.

What do you want people to know about discrimination based on national origin, age, or disability?

We do not have to withstand so much humiliation from people who feel superior to us. We are all the same and we have to stand up for ourselves. With DFEH’s help, we can do it. I hope others know DFEH is a resource for them if they need help.