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Filing a discrimination and/or retaliation complaint with the state

When an employee is subjected to discrimination and/or retaliatory treatment on the job, there are usually feelings of anger, fear and helplessness, especially if efforts to address the matter within the company fail. When an employee is unable to have his or her situation adequately addressed in-house, it may be time to get the authorities involved.

At the federal level, discrimination and retaliation complaints may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At the state level, employees may file a complaint with the California Department of Industrial Relations. Employees do not have to be concerned that filing such a complaint could open them up to additional adverse treatment in the workplace. If adverse treatment does occur after filing a complaint, this may also be reported so that authorities can address the matter. 

In handling discrimination and retaliation complaints, there is an established process that is followed and specific timelines that must be followed. Ordinarily, a complaint must be filed within six months of the employer’s adverse action, though other deadlines apply for specific cases. After a complaint is filed, the agency conducts an investigation to gather as much information about the situation as possible and to see whether it is possible to settle the matter. This includes a hearing which has the purpose of gathering information about the case.

If a settlement is not reached during the investigation stage of the process, the Labor Commissioner makes a determination as to whether the employer violated the law. If so, the employer will be ordered to remedy the situation. Failure to do so can result in the employer going to court.

Navigating the hearing process is not always an easy thing and having an experienced advocate at one’s side can be a great asset. This is particularly the case if it becomes necessary to appeal the Labor Commissioner’s determination, or to pursue separate litigation to have the matter resolved satisfactorily. 

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