Workplace Discrimination
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Have You Suffered Workplace Discrimination?

Both federal and state laws assure equal opportunity in employment and prohibit discrimination in general. Such types of prohibited discrimination include, but are not necessarily limited to, age discrimination, disability discrimination and/or a failure to accommodate for the disability, harassment and retaliation, which can be in the form of a punishment (eg., adverse action, such as warning, demotion, negative evaluation, salary reduction, relocation to different job assignment, suspension or termination).

State and federal laws also protect employees from discrimination in the workplace based upon any of the following: gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, color, national origin, religion.

The laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace are essentially derived from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 USC§2000e et seq). California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), applicable to employers with five or more employees, is found in Government Code §12900 et seq, and provides protections similar to Title VII, although the California law generally goes beyond the federal standards.

Remedy

With limited exception, (eg., an employer with less than five employees or a religious organization) the aggrieved employee must file a claim with FEHA within one year of the negative employment action. If the employee cannot file a FEHA claim (because either the employer or employee is not covered by FEHA), a claim can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The deadline to file an EEOC claim is shorter than the FEHA time period.

Once the claim is filed with either FEHA or EEOC, an invitation is extended to both parties to consider participation in a free mediation. Mediation is a process by which a neutral person, unfamiliar with the facts or issues, attempts to facilitate a settlement of the dispute. If the mediation does not occur (because one of the parties refuses to participate) or the mediation is not successful in reaching a settlement, the employee is generally left with the choice of requesting a Right to Sue Letter, which is required before filing a lawsuit. If the party intends to file a lawsuit in federal court, the employee has 90 days to file suit. If the employee elects to file in state court, they have one year to file suit.

Contact Information

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — 800-669-4000

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing — 800-884-1684

California Employment Development Department — 800-300-5616

Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center — 415-864-8208