California law has a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that imposes prohibitions on discrimination and retaliation involving employers and employees.
It primarily deals with sexual harassment complaints and protects employees from threats of retaliation from employers. The complaint should be filed within one year from the incident. This is also referred to as the "statute of limitation". The State Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) assists with the investigation and processing of the cases.
The claimant may extend the statute of limitation under "equitable tolling" and "continuing violation doctrine". Equitable tolling applies when there are several remedies available to the injured person. Continuing violation applies when the employer commits violations within the limitation period or beyond.
The employer must have a clear and effective employment manual that specifies policies and grievance procedure for complaints.
FEHA also deals with other cases of discrimination like race, age, physical ability, and even marital status. FEHA provides more penalties compared to federal discrimination laws. Examples of these are provisions for reimbursement and attorney fee awards. It also evaluates the companies' executives from acts of harassment, discrimination, or failure to resolve hostile working environment.
The victim needs to initiate the filing of the complaint at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Extensions for filing the case may be considered during instances where the complaint is trying to be resolved within company negotiation.
In case of a wrongful termination, the employee may seek formal litigation should the employer fail to give special compensation package prior, during, or after termination.
Statute of Limitation
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) stipulates that all complaints
involving unlawful employment practices should be filed within one year. This provides immediate compensation for the plaintiff's damages. It also provides protection for employers against unfair and unsupported allegations. It gives an opportunity for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and DFEH to investigate and find witnesses promptly.
The DFEH receives and screens all related complaints. It decides whether to prosecute the claims. The claimant has the option to use his or her "right to sue" should the DFEH rejects the claims. An ongoing or single discrete act such as demotion or termination may constitute as a ground for discrimination.
California laws encourage full execution of administrative resolution or settlement.
It recommends full implementation of the company's existing grievance procedure before filing a formal lawsuit.
It provides warning and caution for executives to detect subtle signs of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, and implement immediate solution or remedy to the problem. It encourages employers to be vigilant in suspicious acts that may cause problems for the company.
An annual update of employment manual containing policies on harassment and discrimination acts can also lessen the occurrence of such wrongful behavior.
Consult a professional FEHA Claims and Hearings attorney and assert your rights today.