California Fair Employment and Housing Act
San Diego Employment Attorney
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (commonly known as FEHA) is a set of laws contained in California Government Code §§12900 – 12996 that prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Although all California residents are covered by the various federal prohibitions against discrimination, FEHA acts as an additional source of protection, allowing employees an easier avenue for addressing workplace issues and often providing more generous damage awards and less stringent standards for meeting discrimination criteria than the federal statutes.
As an experienced San Diego employment attorney, Mr. Rodenbo has a long and successful history of prosecuting these cases and can help you right injustices in your workplace if you’ve been the victim of discrimination or harassment. If you fit one of the protected classes in the list below, call us to see if you have a case before you report the issue to the DEHA. You only have 1 year from the last act of discrimination or harassment to file a report or a lawsuit, and it pays to get legal advice before committing to a course of action.
What Are “Protected Characteristics”
According to FEHA, there are 14 “protected characteristics,” which are viewed as inherent, unchangeable qualities about a person that should carry no weight in the workplace with regards to hiring, firing, compensation, or kind, humane treatment. Association with a member of any of these classes or engagement in a protected activity is also protected.
The protected characteristics include:
- Creed (religious adherence or practices)
- National origin (including restrictions on language use)
- Disability (physical or mental)
- Medical condition (including use of medial leave)
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and the use of family or pregnancy leave)
- Gender/gender identity/gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Military/veteran status
- Association with a member of any of the above protected classes
- Engagement in a protected activity
If an employer singles out an individual or group of individuals for different treatment based on one of these categories, passively allows someone in management to engage in such treatment, fails to train management on how to protect against discrimination, or fails to educate employees on their rights to a fair and equitable workplace, that employer may be guilty of violating FEHA laws. Note that there are both active and passive ways to violate these laws. An employer can be guilty of discrimination either by actively pursuing it or by passive inaction while it occurs.
What Are Examples of Discrimination & Harassment?
Not all actions that may offend a person are considered discrimination or harassment. If you are passed up for a job opening because your disability makes you less capable of performing essential tasks, for example, this is not discrimination. However, if you are passed up despite being more highly qualified than a non-disabled employee, this may be discrimination.
Some examples of discrimination and harassment include:
- Denial of employment
- Denial of a promotion
- Constructive termination (being forced to quit)
- Being laid off
- Unequal pay for equal work
- Active harassment or passive allowance of a harassing environment
- Retaliation for submitting a FEHA complaint
- Denial of reasonable accommodations
- Denial of pregnancy, family care, or medical leave
- Discontinuation of employer-paid health insurance while on leave
- Non-job related questions
- Non-job related genetic testing
Requesting a Right To Sue Notice
If, despite FEHA’s non-discrimination laws, your employer discriminates, harasses, or retaliates against you for standing up against discrimination or harassment, you have two options.
The first option is to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by filling out a pre-complaint inquiry online or by mail or email. If you do this, the department will investigate the complaint for you and take action against the business, if necessary. If you still want to sue later, after filing a complaint, you can do so, but you must do it within 1 year of the alleged discrimination or harassment incident.
If, however, you want to sue your employer directly, you or your attorney will need to fill out a Right To Sue Form and obtain an official Right-to-Sue notice from the DFEH. This notice waives a DFEH investigation or halts the one in progress in favor of an individual lawsuit. It is strongly recommended that you have an attorney before you do this.
Call A San Diego Employment Attorney Before Contacting The DFEH
The decision of whether to issue a complaint or file a lawsuit is an important and complex one. You need to weigh many different things, including the specifics of your case, the likelihood of a positive outcome, the amount of compensation you can expect from a court case, and much more. Only an attorney can tell you whether or not you have a case that’s worth a lawsuit and what the potential risks and benefits are. If you’ve been discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against anywhere in San Diego or the surrounding areas because of your stand against unfair treatment, give us a call today. Our consultations are completely free and we can help you determine the best course of action to right the wrongs in your workplace. Call us today at 1-877-241-0081 or 619-265-0081.