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How do I proceed with an employment discrimination lawsuit?

There are many legal protections in California meant to shelter employees from discrimination at work. According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers cannot discriminate against you based on your religion, race, ethnicity, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, sex / gender, pregnancy, age or several other identifiers.

Unfortunately, the prospect of discrimination is very real, even today. If you are a victim of workplace discrimination, you need to know how to file a lawsuit against your employer. Continue reading to learn about the fundamentals of protecting your rights as an employee in California.

File a DFEH complaint before proceeding to court

The first step toward filing a discrimination lawsuit against most California employers is to file a complaint through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH will conduct an exhaustive investigation process that attempts to rectify your situation before you file a lawsuit. A DFEH investigation will also afford your employer an opportunity to informally respond to your allegations before you file a lawsuit. However, the DFEH also allows you to skip the investigation, if you so choose. If you have an attorney, they may advise you to skip the investigative process to speed up your path to court.  Either way, your employer will be served with your DFEH complaint.

What comes next

Once you have completed the DFEH complaint process, you will be able to file a civil complaint. After you file your complaint with the court, your employer will have to be served with the lawsuit. A formal response will then be required of your employer.  These are the first steps in the litigation process, which could eventually lead to facing your employer at trial.

If you believe you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney who knows how to fight for your rights.


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