You must file a complaint with DFEH or the EEOC before filing a lawsuit.
Under both federal and California law, employers are forbidden from engaging in illegal discrimination. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides broader protections than federal law, and generally applies to employers with 5 or more employees.
As a California employment discrimination lawyer can explain, the FEHA prohibits discriminating against an employee based on their:
- Religious creed
- National origin
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- Medical condition
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Gender identity or gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Military and veteran status
If you have suffered discrimination for any of these reasons, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. But in order to do so, you must first file a complaint with either the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
A complaint of employment discrimination must be filed with the DFEh within 3 years of the date that you suffered harm. To start, you will need to gather information about what happened to you, such as documents that support your claim and your own description of what happened. From there, you will need to fill out an intake form, either online via the Cal Civil Rights System, by calling the DFEH, or by sending the form via the mail.
After the DFEH receives your complaint, it will analyze it and decide if it will investigate it further. DFEH may decline to do so, and issue a right to sue notice or accept the case and begin an investigation. A right to sue notice can be used by your California employment discrimination lawyer to start the process of filing a lawsuit against your employer.
If your case is accepted, then you will need to sign a complaint form that DFEH will prepare. This complaint will be served on your employer, and your employer will be given a chance to respond. In some cases, DFEH will attempt to help each side reach a settlement. If you cannot agree to a settlement, then the investigation will proceed. At this juncture, the DFEH may find that no violation occurred, or file a lawsuit on your behalf.
California employment law is complicated, particularly when it comes to discrimination cases. There are numerous deadlines that must be met, or you risk having your case thrown out. In addition, employers often aggressively fight back against these types of complaints. For these reasons, it is important to work with a California employment discrimination lawyer who can level the playing field and protect your rights.
PLBSH represents individuals throughout California who have faced workplace discrimination. If you have been subjected to discrimination at work, we can help. Reach out to us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a California employment discrimination lawyer.