Employment discrimination can be subtle, but it is described as unequal treatment or attitudes toward one group of employees or against another resulting in unfair, adverse impacts to a protected class of employees or prospective employees. Among the most common questions our Riverside employment discrimination attorneys receive is, “How do I file an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?” One of the first things we need to determine is whether you belong to a protected class, and if so, whether they suffered disparate and negative treatment as at least partially a result of being in that class.
The California Fair Employment Practices Act marks its 60th anniversary in 2019. The law prohibits discrimination against employees and/or applicants on the basis of one’s actual or perceived belonging or association with one of the following protected classes:
Gender (this provision also bars sexual harassment);
- Race and Color
- Marital Status
- National Origin or Ancestry
- Religious Creed
- Pregnancy, Childbirth or Related Conditions (including lactation)
- Age (pertains to individuals over the age of 40)
Once our Riverside employment discrimination attorneys examine the facts of the case to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to file a claim, we’ll give you a detailed rundown of your legal options. Unlike other types of civil claims, the process of filing an employment discrimination claim doesn’t always go straight to court.
Filing an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
In many cases before one can officially file an age discrimination lawsuit, the employee or applicant will need to show he/she exhausted all administrative remedies. As noted in CACI No. 2508 of the FEHA, employees must do this by first filing a complaint with the state DFEH, which will conduct its own investigation, from which it decides whether it will sue on behalf of the state. Thereafter, if the agency determines no civil action will be brought by the state, it will issue a notice of right to sue. The DFEH complaint must be filed “timely,” within one year, unless there is evidence of ongoing discriminatory practices taking place against the plaintiff (considered an equitable exception).
Your employment discrimination lawyer can help you obtain an immediate right to sue before an investigation.
In either case, the lawsuit (also referred to as the “complaint”) is typically filed in state court in the county where the discrimination occurred or in a county relevant to the case (for example, if work was regularly performed there or that is where the company is headquartered). A copy of the complaint is “served” on the defendant company/employer. The defense is given a chance to response (denial is the most common response). From there, discovery will take place, with both sides collecting evidence, deposing witnesses, etc.
Civil employment discrimination lawsuits in California can be timely, in some cases consuming years. However, many cases are settled out-of-court prior to trial, particularly the closer one gets to the date, though settlement negotiations are usually ongoing throughout the lead up to trial.
In the event an employment lawsuit is not settled before trial, it will go before the court, either with a jury trial or bench trial. At the conclusion of the trial (settlements are sometimes reached even up to this point), the judge or jury will issue a finding of whether plaintiff proved his or her case according to the legal criteria, and if so, determine a damage award. Damage awards can include lost wages, lost benefits, emotional pain and suffering, etc.
Either side has the option to appeal that finding if they believe the trial court made a fundamental, relevant error resulting in an unfair outcome.
If you have questions about filing an employment discrimination lawsuit in Riverside, CA, our trusted legal firm can help.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
California Code of Regulations, Title 2 Administration, Division 4.1 Department of Fair Employment and Housing, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
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