Everyone has the right to work in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. However, discrimination in the workplace is still very common. In fact, according to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), more than 5,000 people in California filed a workplace discrimination complaint in 2019. If you believe you are a victim of this unlawful practice, you have the right to file a complaint against your employer to recover any damages you may have suffered.
Common forms of discrimination
Employers in California must respect and treat their employees as equals. It is illegal for them to discriminate against their employees because of their sex, age, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or color. You may be a victim of employment discrimination if your employer did any of the following:
- Demoted you or failed to promote you without reason
- Terminated the employment relationship without an explanation
- Gave you bad performance reviews that are not true
- Made demeaning comments about your age, sex, disability, etc.
- Made unwelcome sexual advances or harassed you
- Asked you improper questions about your genetic or medical information
- Paid you less than your other coworkers for the same job
If any of these situations resonate with you, you may have a valid reason to file a complaint with the DFEH. You can also file a complaint if your coworkers discriminated against you and your employer did not fix the problem when you reported it.
By filing a complaint with the DFEH, you can hold your employer responsible. You can get compensation for the harm and losses that they have caused you. Some of the remedies you could get if the DFEH finds proof of discrimination are:
- Back or front pay (past or future lost earnings)
- Damages for emotional distress
- Punitive damages
- Attorney’s fees and costs
You must file a complaint no later than three years after the date of the alleged discrimination. Otherwise, you may lose your right to ask for remedies.
Your right as an employee
If you file a complaint, the DFEH will investigate your case and make a finding of discrimination.. If you want to file your own lawsuit, you must first ask the DFEH for the right to sue. No matter how you decide to hold your employer responsible, you must not do this with fear. You don’t deserve to be a victim of discrimination, and you have the power to put a stop to it by taking legal action.