Employee discrimination is a serious issue in the State of California. State and federal laws govern employers and employees. If you suffered discrimination while working or seeking work in the State of California, you have options for holding an employer accountable for their actions. You should understand important details regarding employment law in California.
The San Diego employment discrimination attorneys of Haeggquist & Eck, LLP offers legal representation for employees who suffer employment discrimination in San Diego and surrounding counties. Call our office today for a free consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case. Retaining an attorney is an important step to take when you want to hold your employer liable for discrimination.
No one wants to feel discriminated against at work.
Filing an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in California
Filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is necessary before an employee may sue an employer for employment discrimination in California. You must pursue any available administrative remedies before filing a claim. An applicant should complete the Department of Fair Employment and Housing complaint process before filing a lawsuit.
You may request an immediate right to sue notice before beginning a DFEH investigation. The DFEH will not investigate your case if you pursue an immediate right to sue notice.
An attorney can assist you with the necessary filings for your employment discrimination case. Your attorney can procure a right to sue notice and file the complaint in California Superior Court.
Your attorney can file the complaint with the proper court and then serve it on your employer or any other defendants named in the lawsuit. Employment discrimination lawsuits can take time to resolve, and an employer will likely settle the closer the case proceeds to trial.
Did My Employer Discriminate Against Me?
Workplace discrimination may occur over a long time or during a few brief episodes. Employers may avoid documenting discriminatory acts by not putting anything in writing. Employers want to avoid being sued by their employees and former employees. Employment discrimination may involve providing documentary evidence that groups of employees are treated differently from other employees.
Employment discrimination can occur during the hiring process, while an employee is working, and while an employee is being terminated.
Common signs of employment discrimination include:
- Not interviewing or considering applicants from diverse ethnic backgrounds
- Mocking an individual’s accent or other traits
- Management failing to make employees stop telling racist or sexist jokes
- Different rules that apply only to workers from specific ethnic backgrounds
- Reducing hours or reducing pay
- Workload increases or alterations in work responsibilities
- Excluding workers from events and meetings
- Inexplicable changes in performance assessments
Employment discrimination is not limited to the events outlined here. If you suspect your employer discriminated against you, contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP today to schedule a free consultation. We can discuss the facts of your case and determine what course of action to take that will benefit you and your family.
Protected Classes In The State Of California
Protected characteristics under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act include:
- Veteran status
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Mental disability
- Marital Status
Any person can be affected by workplace discrimination. Minorities are not the only class of people who can suffer discrimination in the workplace. State law in California prohibits discrimination based on the categories above. Federal law also prohibits employment discrimination.
Under FEHA, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee.
Employment discrimination includes:
- Discriminating against an employee in any aspect of hiring or employment
- Discharging or firing an employee
- Not selecting an employee for a training program
- Not hiring or employing an individual due to discrimination
Employe discrimination also includes:
- Assigning different job duties
- Harassing an employee
- Forcing an employee to quit
- Denying benefits
- Denying promotions
- Demoting an employee
- Refusing to hire an employee
- Refusing to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation
Employment discrimination laws also apply to labor organizations and labor unions. Employment agencies and training programs also must not discriminate against employees.
Can I Experience Discrimination if the Company Did Not Hire Me?
You can still experience employment discrimination if you were only a job applicant or interviewee. Some instances of employment discrimination occur on improper job applications. Also, employment discrimination often occurs during job interviews.
An employer may discriminate against you if they ask about:
- Arrest record or criminal history
- National origin
- Mental or physical disability
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
Employers may not ask an applicant to take psychological or medical exams if other job applicants are not required to take exams. Employers are permitted to ask you if you can perform the essential functions of the job for which you are applying.
Must I File a Complaint With the EEOC if My Employer Discriminated Against Me?
Acts of employment discrimination may violate federal law and the state law of California. Many federal employment discrimination laws are regulated and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing deals with most employment discrimination cases.
The state of California offers broader protections to employees who bring anti-discrimination cases. California employment laws may apply to employers with at least five employees, and federal laws may apply to employers with at least 15 employees. California residents may prefer to file an employment discrimination complaint with DFEH.
These are some of the reasons it is imperative that an individual who wants to file an employment discrimination claim seek out legal representation. An employment law attorney can assist you with specific questions related to your claim. Also, an experienced attorney can explain to you the benefits of filing your case with a specific agency.
How Do I File An Employment Discrimination Claim?
Employees who want to file a claim against an employer for employment discrimination in the state of California must exhaust all administrative options and remedies first. An employee may need to complete the DFEH complaint process before filing a lawsuit. If you retain an attorney, then your attorney can file a complaint with the DFEH and get an immediate right-to-sue notice without waiting for the administrative process.
If you choose to do so, you can file an employment discrimination claim directly with the DFEH. Employees must typically submit a pre-complaint inquiry within three years of the last episode of employment discrimination. If you did not learn about the unlawful discrimination until after the expiration of the three years, then an exception applies.
This complaint may be filed online, by printing out and mailing the proper form, and by telephone. A pre-complaint inquiry will begin an intake interview with the DFEH, and the department will determine if the complaint should be investigated.
Investigators may contact the individual filing the complaint within 60 days and discuss the facts concerning the act of employment discrimination. A DFEH representative may determine that the state of California will not handle the complaint and dismiss the matter. The employee then has the immediate right to sue the employer in court.
How Much Time Do I Have to Sue My Employer After Facing Discrimination?
You need to file a complaint with the DFEH within three years of the last episode of employment discrimination. You must obtain a right to sue notice before filing a lawsuit in court. After the State of California provides you with a notice of your right to sue or does not pursue your claim, you have one year to file a lawsuit against your employer in state court.
If you choose to file a federal employment discrimination complaint, then you have 180 days to file a complaint from the date of the last episode of discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadline may be extended to 300 days if a state or local agency enforces employment discrimination laws on the same basis.
To file a federal employment discrimination claim, you must obtain a notice of right to sue. After the EEOC issues a notice of right to sue, the employee has 90 days to file a lawsuit in court.
You need to retain legal representation to make sure you are aware of all deadlines that may apply to your employment discrimination claim. Contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP today to schedule a free consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case. Employment law is complex and it retaining an experienced attorney is the best thing you can do if you want to pursue an employment discrimination case.
What Damages Can I Claim in an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit?
The facts of your case, the particular employer, and the length of your employment are all relevant factors that contribute to the amount of damages you may claim in an employment discrimination lawsuit. You may have been subjected to harassment, and this will influence the damages you may claim. Money damages, punitive damages, and equitable remedies may all be available to you in an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Monetary damages from an employment discrimination case may include:
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Bonus payment
- Reduced pay after being demoted
- Loss of income from a missed promotion
- Front pay
- Back wages
You may also seek equitable remedies in an employment discrimination lawsuit. Equitable remedies may force your employer to take specific actions. A court may order an employer to hire you. A court can also order the employer to make reasonable accommodations for you if the employer had failed to do so, and this action gave rise to the lawsuit.
You can also see the costs of attorneys’ fees and court costs. Hiring an experienced employment law attorney can make sure that you seek these costs when you pursue your employment discrimination case.
Employees may receive punitive damages if the employer’s behavior was egregious or damaging to society as a whole. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and deter the defendant from committing the same acts in the future.
Can My Employer Terminate Me For Filing An Employment Discrimination Claim?
It is also a violation of California state law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting workplace discrimination against co-workers, employees, or applicants. The FEHA protects employees who suffer retaliation.
Here are some protected actions:
- Assisting with DFEH investigators or other government agencies
- Reporting employment discrimination or harassment
- Reporting employment discrimination against other employees
- Opposing workplace discrimination and harassment
Employers cannot terminate employees for filing a workplace discrimination or harassment lawsuit. Terminating an employee for filing an employment discrimination claim is a retaliatory action, and this may constitute wrongful termination.
An employee who suffers retaliation may need to file a complaint with the DFEH for retaliation. Employees who suffer retaliation may file a lawsuit against an employer for wrongful termination or retaliation.
Contact a San Diego Discrimination Attorney Today for Your Free Consultation
If you need an employment law attorney, contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP today for your free consultation. Employment law is a complex area of law, and the regulations are always changing. Do not try to carry your employment law case on your own. Hiring an employment law attorney will provide you with the time you need to pursue other interests.
Employment law cases can require enormous amounts of time. Call Haeggquist & Eck, LLP today at (619) 468-5222 or reach out online to speak to an employment discrimination attorney about your case. The longer you hesitate to hire an attorney, the more likely it will be that a deadline will pass. Do not rest on your rights.
By retaining experienced employment law attorneys, you can give yourself a better chance of a good outcome for yourself and your family. Employers may not expect you to retain legal representation, but your employer will certainly have access to an attorney. Do not try to take on the responsibility of your employment law case without retaining an employment law firm that will stand up for your rights.
The Three Basic Employee Rights
Every employee has rights, they include:
- Right to Know: Employers/supervisors must ensure their employees are aware of any hazards that are present in the job. The employees have the right to be trained and receive information about any toxic substances they may be exposed to.
- Right to Participate: Employees have the right to ask questions about issues relating to their/ a coworker’s health and safety. They have the right to report unsafe conditions to their supervisor or employer.
- Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: Employee may refuse work if they believe they are endangering themselves or others. The employer has a responsibility to respond to work refusals. The employee is protected from retaliation from the employer if they refuse unsafe tasks.
Common Examples of Workplace Discrimination
Sometimes instances of workplace discrimination are discrete and glaring – other times, however, they can be less noticeable. Regardless of how obvious they are, or whether or not the discrimination was intentional, you may be able to hold a responsible party liable.
Common instances of workplace discrimination look like the following:
- Refusal to hire or promote people that belong to a protected class
- Implementing policies that would only or disproportionately affect people belonging to a certain class
- Allowing instances of workplace discrimination or harassment due to a person’s status as a protected class citizen
- Failing to accommodate for disability or religious needs
What Remedies Can I Receive If I File a Workplace Discrimination Claim?
Remedies for a victim of discrimination can vary depending on the case, such as the extent of the discrimination suffered and the extent of the harm caused to the employee.
Employees who have suffered unlawful discrimination in the workplace may be able to recover damages that include:
- Employee backpay
- Future lost wages
- Reinstatement of position
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Employee’s attorney fees
- Emotional distress damages
- Punitive damages in egregious or malicious cases
In addition to monetary damages, the employer may be required to make changes to their workplace policies and procedures.
What is an Employment Discrimination Class Action?
There are some employment discrimination cases that affect entire groups of people or “classes” of employees. If you are involved in this type of case:
- An attorney or the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing may file a lawsuit on the behalf of that class that were harmed by the discriminatory policy of the employers.
- The lawsuit is a “class action” and can be a method for discrimination victims to voice their concerns as a collective and force change to policies.
- However, if an individual joins a class action they may affect their right to take solo legal action.
If you have received notice that you may be qualified to join a “class action”, do not hesitate to speak with our employment discrimination attorney. We have experience with a wide variety of class action cases and can help guide you through the process and discuss your rights in seeking compensation for discrimination.
We Can Fight for You
Contact one of our discrimination lawyers at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP to learn more about filing a discrimination claim against your employer, and about pursuing damages. We can review the details of your case and answer questions you may have about your case.
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against at work, contact us today for help.
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