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Initiating an employment complaint in California

Everything about a new job usually looks so promising in the beginning. You may have sought out and applied for a position that interested you and for which you were qualified. You made it through the interview process and, finally, you were offered and accepted the job. At this stage, many people feel like the hardest part - the finding and securing of the job - is probably done. Unfortunately, as many of the clients we have worked with over the years could tell you, this is not always the case.  

As a firm that has chosen to place our focus specifically on employment laws in California, we are often approached by workers of every career who feel that they are being discriminated against or harassed by their employer. And in many of those cases, the employees who are reaching out to us may be aware that they need to take steps to file a formal complaint against their employer in relation to the discrimination they have experienced, but often, they know little about how or where they need to begin.  


Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst in the workforce

While you may hope that you never have to use the information, it is always going to be in the best interest of anyone who is employed by another entity to understand the laws and protections that are provided to them on both a federal and a state level. And if you’re an employee in California, you are probably already aware that our state employment laws and protections tend to place more favor on employees than on employers. While this is undoubtedly reassuring for employees who need to file a complaint, this should not be mistaken as a sign that anyone filing a formal complaint should do so without first consulting an attorney - particularly one who has valuable experience in this complex area of federal and state employment law.  

Common examples of illegal workplace discrimination

As outlined in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Nation of Origin
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Marital Status

Statute of limitations and approval or rejection of an intake form

It’s also important to note that there is a one year statute of limitations in regards to the time frame in which you must file your formal complaint. The first step in this process is to file an intake form with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (or, DFEH, for short). This can be filled out and submitted online, or printed and mailed directly after which a DFEH representative will view the form, evaluate the content and then make a decision to either reject the case or accept it and begin further investigation. If your complaint is rejected by the DFEH, you will be given what is called a right-to-sue notice.  This is a form that will allow you to file a lawsuit against your employer on your own, as opposed to using the investigative resources available to the DEFH.

Have you, a friend, a family member or even a co-worker been the victim of illegal discrimination or harassment at your workplace? If you are interested in learning more about the legal options and protections that are your right as an employee who lives and works in the state of California, or if you have further questions regarding the proper procedure that needs to be followed when filing a formal complaint against your employer, we invite you to contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case. Our knowledgeable, dedicated and experienced team of attorneys are ready to assist you through the process.

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