Los Angeles Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Workplace discrimination is something that no American employee should experience, and there are various legal protections in place at the state and federal levels designed to prevent employees from encountering any form of discrimination. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination can and does occur in virtually any industry operating in Los Angeles, CA. Many employees suffer the effects of discrimination without realizing the full scope of their employer’s actions and without knowing the full extent of their legal rights.
Clark Employment Law, APC, strives to provide our clients and prospective clients in the Los Angeles, CA, area with as much helpful information as possible so they can stay fully informed about their legal options for handling incidents of discrimination at work.
Therefore, we have compiled the following most frequently asked questions concerning discrimination and provided detailed answers to help you determine whether you have recently experienced discrimination at work and what you can do about it.
“Discrimination” is a fairly broad term that can apply to any adverse actions an employer takes against a job applicant or an employee based on the employee’s protected characteristics. Discrimination may pertain to hiring and firing decisions, choosing employees to promote, or undue disciplinary action that is unwarranted and purely based on the affected employee’s protected characteristics.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the United States and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) are responsible for enforcing federal and state laws, respectively, that make it illegal to discriminate against or harass a job applicant or employee because of a protected characteristic.. California law protects individuals from illegal discrimination by employers based on the following protected characteristic/category:
Every state upholds unique anti-discrimination laws, and the EEOC is responsible for addressing discrimination claims at the federal level.
In employment discrimination cases in California, you must file a complaint with the DFEH within three (3) years of the date you were harmed (e.g., discriminated against, harassed, or wrongfully terminated). Before filing any employment cases with the court or in arbitration, you must obtain from DFEH a Right-to-Sue notice before filing your own lawsuit. After receiving the Right-to-Sue letter from DFEH, you have one (1) year to file the lawsuit
Perhaps the most challenging part of any discrimination claim is proving that discrimination took place. The claimant must be able to prove a causal link between the adverse treatment they experienced and their protected characteristics. Evidence of this link may be direct evidence such as a comment or negative statements from your employer. Direct evidence is rare, however. Instead, most cases are provided by circumstantial evidence, such as timing of your termination following your protected activities, underrepresentation of your protected class in your workplace, or your employer lying about the reason for your termination. You can also cite any incidents in which your employer directly violated their own workplace policies. Suppose other employees who share your protected characteristics have experienced similar treatment, they could be valuable support as “me too” witnesses. In that case, your Los Angeles discrimination attorney will likely want to take statements from them about their experiences as well.
Many workplace discrimination claims pertain to wrongful terminations, including all incidents in which employees are fired based on their protected characteristics. However, it is possible to experience discrimination in other ways that do not entail losing a job. For example, if an employee is subjected to differential adverse treatment from their supervisor based on their protected characteristics, this is a form of discrimination that generates a hostile work environment. Wrongful termination is one of the most commonly cited forms of workplace discrimination. However, it is possible to experience workplace discrimination without losing your job, and you still have the right to file a claim with the DFEH or the EEOC if this sounds like your experience.
You cannot directly file a lawsuit against an employer for discrimination. First, you and your Los Angeles discrimination lawyers must file a claim with the DFEH or the EEOC. The DFEH is responsible for investigating all claims of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act before the case is filed with the court. The EEOC is responsible for investigating claims of workplace discrimination based on Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Once the EEOC receives your claim, they will begin a detailed investigative process, sometimes requesting supporting documentation from the claimant. If the EEOC investigation determines that you did indeed experience workplace discrimination, they will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue that allows you to proceed with your lawsuit against your employer. The DFEH is also available to investigate and help settle your complaint. In employment cases, you must obtain from DFEH a Right-to-Sue notice before filing your own lawsuit in court. If you would prefer not to use the DFEH investigation process and instead file your own lawsuit, you can obtain an immediate Right-To-Sue notice.
Employers are legally prohibited from adverse retaliatory actions against employees who make protected actions in good faith. Filing an EEOC or DFEH claim for discrimination or harassment qualifies as a protected action, and an employer may not fire an employee who files such a claim. Therefore, if you file your EEOC or DFEH claim and are subsequently fired, your Los Angeles discrimination attorney can not only help you hold them accountable for discrimination but also wrongful termination.
Navigating any discrimination claim without an attorney would be incredibly difficult. Your attorney can make it much easier to complete the EEOC claim process or obtain your right-to-sue notice from the DFEH in a timely fashion, assist you in gathering any supporting materials you must provide with your claim, and handle every aspect of your legal case. In addition, if you are concerned about the potential cost of your attorneys’ fees and costs, under the FEHA, a prevailing plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, costs, and expert-witness fees are recoverable unless special circumstances would make the award unjust..
Victims of workplace discrimination can receive several types of compensation if they succeed with their discrimination lawsuits. The plaintiff could secure reinstatement if they were wrongfully terminated and wish to resume their previous job, and they can recover back pay for any lost income and lost benefits. It’s also possible to recover attorneys’ fees and costs and compensation for the plaintiff’s emotional or mental distress caused by the defendant. In some cases, defendants will also face punitive damages based on the severity of their discriminatory actions.
Ultimately, experiencing any workplace discrimination can be incredibly distressing and challenging for the employee. Working with an experienced Los Angeles discrimination attorney is the best option available for anyone in this position who intends to hold their employer accountable for discriminatory actions. If you need legal representation for a discrimination claim in Los Angeles, CA, the team at Clark Employment Law, APC, is ready to help you. Contact us today at (818) 741-2101 and schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights after experiencing discrimination in your workplace.