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Filing a Discrimination Claim

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When you work for an employer, you expect to be judged based on your job performance. Unfortunately, some employers make hiring and promotion decisions based on the race or gender of their employees rather than their individual merit. Federal and state laws protect employees from illegal discrimination on the job. In most disputes, employers will have more financial resources to secure legal counsel than their employees. Accordingly, before filing a discrimination claim, you should consult with an El Segundo employment discrimination attorney at the Calderone Law Firm.

Filing a Discrimination Claim

Employment discrimination occurs whenever an employer treats a job applicant or employee adversely due to a protected characteristic. Adverse treatment may occur in connection with job advertisements, recruitment, hiring, firing, promotion, pay, benefits, or layoffs. For example, an employer engages in racial discrimination if it excludes Black employees during recruitment. Alternatively, if an employer excludes employees with accents from better paying customer-facing positions, this may be national origin discrimination. Harassment is also a form of discrimination.

To pursue a job discrimination claim in California, you’ll first need to file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). While the federal and state agencies have different deadlines for filing a discrimination claim, the agencies work together. As long you mark that your claim should be cross-filed with the other agency, you don’t need to file separate complaints with each agency.

Federal Laws

The EEOC enforces multiple federal antidiscrimination laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

These laws protect different characteristics and apply to mid-size and large employers. For instance, Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, and governs the conduct of employers that have at least 15 employees. If you work for a large corporation and your employer passed you over for a promotion to a management position because you are a woman, you may have a Title VII claim. Employers with at least 20 employees must abide by the ADEA, which prohibits age discrimination in the workplace against employees that are age 40 or older. The ADEA doesn’t protect younger workers from age discrimination.

If you have a claim for age discrimination under the ADEA, your first step would be to file a charge with the EEOC.

Fair Employment and Housing Act

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees of smaller companies who have at least five employees. Compared to federal antidiscrimination laws, FEHA protects a broader range of traits, including race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, mental disability, physical disability, genetic information, medical condition, marital status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, or military and veteran status. One advantage of pursuing your claim under FEHA is that the law does not cap damages. In contrast, the antidiscrimination laws enforced by the EEOC cap damages based on the size of your employer.

If you have a claim for discrimination under FEHA, your first step will be to file a claim with the DFEH.

What Happens Once You File a Claim?

Once your claim is filed or cross-filed, it can be investigated. One of the agencies may ask you and the employer to mediate the claim or they may ask the employer to respond in writing to your claim and investigate.

During an investigation, the DFEH or EEOC will interview witnesses and gather evidence. If an investigator determines that the employer illegally discriminated against the employee, the agency may try to reach a settlement with the employer. When both sides cannot reach a settlement, the case proceeds. The agency may file a lawsuit on your behalf or it may issue a Notice of Right to Sue, which allows you to move forward by filing your lawsuit. A Notice of Right to Sue will also be issued if the agency decides it won’t file a lawsuit on your behalf. Because you have a limited window of time within which to file suit, you should speak with a lawyer to protect your legal rights.

Talk to a Seasoned Attorney in El Segundo

To pursue an employment discrimination lawsuit, you must first file a discrimination claim with the appropriate agency. Agencies have limited resources to investigate and pursue lawsuits. You should not assume that you don’t have a case because an agency did not find discrimination. If you believe you’ve been the victim of employment discrimination in El Segundo, you should talk to a seasoned lawyer as soon as possible. The Calderone Law Firm may be able to counsel and represent you. We represent employees in Torrance and Los Angeles, as well as those working in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties. Please call us at (424) 348-8290 or complete our online form.