If you are living and earning a living in the State of California, particularly in Los Angeles, consider yourself a fortunate employee. This is because the “Golden State” has some of the wide-ranging civil rights laws of any state in the country.
Working in California is never easy. According to records, a lot of cases of unfair employment practices have been constantly popping up like mushrooms, with most of them dealing with discrimination and harassment, every year.
Although this is the case in California, the agencies responsible for enforcing employment laws on the federal and state level are doing their best to investigate anomalies within workplaces and prosecute erring employers who unfairly treat their employees.
With the state being culturally diverse in many aspects, it is believed that these anti-discrimination laws are important to help promote equal opportunity in employment. Therefore, it is your responsibility to know your rights under your home state’s laws as every employee should.
The California FEHA
Anti-discrimination laws in California are guided by one state law called the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA. Enforced by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), it does not only deal with discrimination in employment, but also in the aspects of housing, public accommodations, and acts of hate violence.
Basically, California employers with at least five or more employees are covered by the laws stipulated in the FEHA. Moreover, the state law makes it illegal for your employer to discriminate against you in all aspects of employment, because even an applicant can be unfairly treated in the hiring process as much as an employee may be wrongfully terminated on the basis of his or her race.
Further, the FEHA expands its coverage on an employee’s protected characteristic. In short, according to the FEHA, an employee is prohibited to discriminate against you on the basis of the following:
- Race or ethnicity;
- National origin;
- Mental or physical disability, medical condition;
- Gender (identity and expression included);
- Sex (pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions included); and
- Marital status, among others.
Filing a complaint with the DFEH
If you are a Los Angeles employee and you have been discriminated against by your employer there, it is important that you file a complaint with the DFEH right away. Doing so must be done within a year from the date of the incident.
A formal investigation takes place after a complaint is submitted. If your employer was found to have violated the laws of the FEHA, then remedies may be awarded to you. Otherwise, you may still pursue an employment lawsuit, this time with the help of an expert Los Angeles discrimination lawyer.