Dealing with Discrimination Issues in California

Discrimination laws were enacted to give people equal opportunity in employment. Most states have their own laws which deal with discrimination issues at the workplace, in addition to federal laws that protect workers against it. Most of these laws cover discrimination based on age, nationality, gender, religion, disability, and other protected categories.

Federal Employment Laws Regarding Workplace Discrimination

Here are some federal laws on discrimination:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – This law prohibits discrimination against disabled persons in employment. It also requires employer to give the disabled person reasonable accommodation at work.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 - This law gives individuals over the age of 40 protection from discrimination in regards to employment and benefits
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Under Title VII of this Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on “race, skin, color, religion, age, gender, disability and national origin”.
  • Civil Rights of 1991 – This law reinforces the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also provides for damages for the victims
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 – An amendment to the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth or any health conditions
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 – This law prohibits gender discrimination regarding wages
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 – This law prohibits discrimination based on place of origin or citizenship status
  • Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 – This law makes employers accountable for violations of discrimination and retaliation laws

Filing a Discrimination Claim

Under the law, a victim must first file a claim before he can file a discrimination lawsuit. As in most other states, dealing with discrimination in California is typically the same. In California, a victim of discrimination may file a complaint for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

Statute of Limitations for Discrimination Claims

When the DFEH issues a right to sue notice, the victim has one year to file a case in court, with limited exception in some cases. The statute of limitation in state law violation is one year.

For violations against Family Medical Leave Act, a victim may file a claim within two years after the violation or within three years if the violation was willful or recurring. Similarly, for violations against the California Equal Pay Act, wage discrimination claims may be filed within 2 years or 3 years if the action is willful. The victim may also alternatively file a claim with the State Labor Commission within six months of the violation. On the other hand, in cases where violations of federal discrimination laws such as Title VII, ADEA and ADA, were made, victims may file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days. Once a right to sue notice is issued, the claimant has only 90 days to file a case in a federal court.

Remedies Outside of Court

However, most employers are given the opportunity by the state and federal employment laws to remedy the situation before it escalates into a lawsuit. Most employers are required by law to implement guidelines and an internal complaint procedure on how to file a discrimination claim or in harassment issues where an administrative action may be required.

Filing a claim and bringing up a discrimination case may involve complex state and federal laws; hence the assistance of an employment lawyer is essential to the victim’s cause.


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