Suppose you believe a business has discriminated against you and that is why you were not accepted into employment with them. In that case, you can file a complaint with The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA, a division of the labor board. This is the primary law that protects you in the state of California for discrimination cases.

What Types of Employment Discrimination are There?

Prospective employees can be discriminated against for many reasons, such as race, religion, color, nationality, ancestry, physical and mental disabilities, medical conditions, and genetic information. They may also be discriminated against for sex, gender, marital status, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, or veteran and military status.

FEHA applies to just about all types of workers, but the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in a workplace based on a physical or mental disability. If this is the reason for your discrimination suit, you should also file a complaint with this group as well.

It's illegal for an employer to discriminate against you for any of these above reasons and refuse to hire you, fire you from a job or a job training program, or give you unequal compensation based on discrimination.

What is the FEHA Claims Process?

Your first step is to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Then you can have them investigate your claim or you can get a right to sue notice and file your claim in small claims court on your own. Note that the right to sue notice works much better if you have an experienced employment lawyer representing you with your complaint.

Click on the DFEH website here and then click on the tab at the top of the page that says file a complaint. You can file a claim in three different ways; through the California Civil Rights System (CCRS) online, by mail with an intake form, or by phone by calling the communication center at 800-884-1684.

What Are the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the period in which you must file a claim. If you wait until after this time, you can't file a claim. For employment discrimination and any other employment cases, you must file a claim within three years of the date of the incident. In California, you may obtain an immediate right to sue notice if you want to file your own lawsuit in small claims court here.

What Additional Information Does DFEH Require?

In the case that you want DFEH to conduct your investigation, you will need to gather some information.

You'll need:

  • facts and records of the incident
  • name and contact information for the person and business
  • copies of any evidence of discrimination in your complaint
  • names and contact information of any witnesses that saw or heard the discrimination act.

What Other Steps Are There?

DFEH will prepare a complaint for you to sign and deliver it to the offending party. When the other party responds to the allegations, DFEH will discuss their findings with you. DFEH will determine if your case was discrimination and offer free dispute resolution to you and the other party.

If there is reasonable cause that you were discriminated against, DFEH will notify both you and the other party about the intention to file a lawsuit in court. Usually, mediation is set before going to court to try and work things out first. However, if mediation doesn't help to resolve the dispute, the case will go to court.

These are the steps to take in California if you believe a prospective employer or your employer has discriminated against you.