In California, the California Fair Employment and Housing Laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, religion, color, national origin, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

California law also protects your rights to use alternate languages aside from English in the workplace and the business cannot operate under “English Only” rules unless it's a restricted business necessity to use English at work.

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How Do I File Employment Discrimination Claim in California?

Pursuing an employment discrimination claim in California can be complex especially for those who do not have a lawyer to assist them. Here are the steps to pursue an employment discrimination claim:

  1. File a Claim with EEOC: The process starts by filing a complaint with the EEOC. Most claims must be brought to the attention of the EEOC, before the employee will be allowed to file a lawsuit. The EEOC requires claims to be filed within 300 days Claims can be filed with the EEOC in person or by mail. The EEOC needs basic information to allow it to investigate, such as contact information for the employee and employer, and the date of the discrimination incident. This 180-day filing deadline may be extended to 300 days if a state or local anti-discrimination law also covers the charge.
  2. EEOC Investigation: The EEOC will investigate the matter and gather all of the documentation it needs.
  3. After Investigation: Following its investigation, if the EEOC finds discrimination did occur; the EEOC will work with both parties to attempt a settlement.
  4. File a Lawsuit: If a settlement between the parties is unsuccessful, the EEOC will either file a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf for the discrimination claim.
    If you decide to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, you have 365 days to file a claim.

If the EEOC decides there was no discrimination, they will give you a Notice of Right to Sue, and you have (90) days from the date of the “Right-to-Sue” letter to file a lawsuit in federal court against your employer.

What is the Difference Between the EEOC and the DFEH?

The DFEH is the California state agency and the EEOC is the federal agency. Some smaller employers aren't covered by federal law, so if your workplace only 14 or under number of employees, you will want to file with the DFEH. If you employer has 15 or more employees you need to file with the EEOC.

How Can I Prove of Employment Discrimination?

To prove employment discrimination in California, you must show that the employer intended to treat you differently because of the characteristic. This intent can also be demonstrated if the employer has treated a lot of other persons with the same protected characteristic unfairly.

Protected Classes/Characteristics for Employment Discrimination:

  • Race or Color
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation

What to Do If You Experience Employment Discrimination?

Pursuing an employment discrimination claim against an employer is complicated because procedural laws vary depending on where and when you file your claim. An California employment lawyer  will help you with the filing deadlines specific to your claim.