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How do I bring an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

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Does California law protect me from employment discrimination?

 
It’s illegal for employers in California to discriminate against employees or job applicant. It is illegal to discriminate against persons that are in the protected classes for California employment law.
 
If you are discriminated against, you can file an employment discrimination lawsuit against the employer and recover money damages.
 
Employment discrimination is wrong. This is why California has strong laws making employment discrimination illegal.
 

What are the protected classes for employment discrimination in California?

This includes discrimination based on:
 
1.    Sex
 
2.    Gender
 
3.    Age (40 or older)
 
4.    Pregnancy, childbirth
 
5.    Marital status
 
6.    AIDS/HIV
 
7.    Color
 
8.    Religion
  
9.    Disability
 
10.  Medical condition
 
11.  National origin
 
12.  Sexual orientation
 
13.  Physical disability
 
14.  Political activities / political affiliation
 
15.  Ancestry 
 
16.  Gender identity/ gender expression 
 
17.  Genetic information
 
18.  Equal pay
 
20.  Military or Veteran status

21.  Status as a victim of domestic violence, assault or stalking


As you can see, just about everyone in California is protected against employment discrimination.

In this article, California employment law lawyers discuss the following questions about how to file an employment discrimination lawsuit in California:  

Why should I consider "strength vs. weakness" with my California employment lawsuit?

Why should I start with the end in mind (trial of an employment discrimination lawsuit in California)?

Why should I talk to a lawyer before I take any action in my employment discrimination case?

What is the difference between a wrongful termination case and an employment discrimination case in California?

What should I do if I am a victim of employment discrimination in California? 
 
How do I file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)?

What is a Right-to-Sue Notice in California?

What is administrative exhaustion for a California employment discrimination claim?   

What is the time limit for a FEHA/ employment discrimination complaint?

Should I file a claim with the DFEH or the EEOC?

What if I work for a small business and I want to bring an employment discrimination case? 

How do I know if I am being discriminated against (or was discriminated against)?

Can I sue my employer for failing to prevent employment discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation?

What are the deadlines for filing employment discrimination claims?

What is a “continuing violation” and will it extend the time I have to file a discrimination claim in California?

Can the company be liable if I am discriminated against by a coworker?

How do I prove employment discrimination?

What is a substantial motivating reason?

What do I need in order to prove or win my employment discrimination case in California?

What is direct evidence in a employment discrimination lawsuit?

What is circumstantial evidence in a employment discrimination lawsuit?

What is a “presumption of discrimination” in California employment law?

What do I need to prove in order to get a “presumption of discrimination” under California employment law?

Can the employer rebut the “presumption of discrimination?”

What kinds of evidence that will help me prove employment discrimination?

What is “me-too” evidence under California employment discrimination law?

Can I use “me-too” evidence in an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

How is “me-too” evidence important in employment discrimination lawsuits? 

What if the company denies that they discriminated against me?

What if the reason given by my employer for discriminating against me is a pretext or a cover-up?

What is disparate impact?

Does California law make both "disparate treatment" and "disparate impact" discrimination illegal?

How can I prove motive in an employment discrimination case?

Why does it help to show that someone “done something wrong?”

Do I have an employment discrimination case?

Do I have an employment discrimination lawsuit, if the illegal conduct was directed at others?

How long to I have to file a lawsuit after I receive a Right to sue?

Do I have to file a discrimination complaint with the company first?

What money can I get for an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

Can I be fired from work or retaliated against for filing an employment discrimination lawsuit?

Are you going to stand up for your rights?

How can I find out if I even have a case for employment discrimination in California?

How can I enforce my legal rights?

What if I need help right now?
 
 

The reason why Bill Turley is regularly asked to testify concerning

employment law legislation at the California State Senate

 and the California Assembly is because he is known for being no B.S. straight-up, and "telling it like it is."


Bill Turley testifying before the California Senate regarding California wage laws

Why should I consider "strength vs. weakness" with my California employment lawsuit?

I am all about being straight-forward and telling like it is. So, here goes.
 
Here is "truth" with your California employment discrimination lawsuit.  If you want to get the money damages that you are entitled to under the California employment law - you have to be ready and able to take your case to court. You have to be prepared to win. Hoping for a good settlement is a fool's errand.  You want to and need to negotiate from a position of strength.  You don't do that unless you are prepared to win in court.
 
Not to suggest that you shouldn’t want to settle your employment discrimination case. Because, settlement is usually a better option. But you can only settle your case if the company gives you a good settlement offer. And the company will only give you a good settlement offer if they believe that you can beat them in court. You do that by going out and getting the evidence you need to win.
 
In this article, I discuss the nuts and bolts of filing an employment discrimination lawsuit and steps you must take. But first, I think it is important for you to see the 40,000 foot level, so to speak. That is, an overview of your case.
 
I then take you down into the weeds, so to speak. I give you very practical legal tips and steps that you can use to help you win your employment discrimination case.
 

Why should I start with the end in mind (trial of an employment discrimination lawsuit in California)?

Because you have to be able to win your discrimination lawsuit in court, everything that you do in regards to your employment discrimination case must be approached with the end in mind.
 
The “end” here is the trial of your employment discrimination lawsuit. If you are thinking, “But, I want to settle my employment discrimination case,” I understand. See the previous section on strength vs. weakness.
 
Even if the end in your mind is settlement, you have to begin with this end in mind - that is -  being ready, willing and able to win your employment discrimination case in trial.


Why should I talk to a lawyer before I take any action in my employment discrimination case?

Although I don’t think it is correct, some Judges are going to allow the written complaint that you file with EEOC and DFEH  into evidence to be used against you. That’s right, your complaints are going be used to defeat your employment discrimination case.
 
And, some Judges may be inclined to throw your case out of court based on what is contained in your letters or what is not contained in your complaints.
 
What you are going to see is that the company lawyer is going to make a HUGE deal out of inconsistencies, contradictions, and/or omissions contained in your “charges.”
 
Because of this, you should always consult with a lawyer BEFORE your file your DFEH or EEOC complaint. The last thing you want to have happen is for the charges you file to result in your case being dismissed or lost because of what you put or did not put in your charges.
 
I realize that this isn’t fair. But, my job is to tell you like it is, not just how it should be.
 

What is the difference between a wrongful termination case and an employment discrimination case in California?

In order to bring an employment discrimination case in California, you need to be in one of the protected classes of employees (which are listed herein above).
You can bring a wrongful termination case based upon employment discrimination or one of many additional reasons based upon California employment law. Or you can bring a claim for constructive discharge if the company made things so bad for you that you had to quit.
 
Meaning that the employer intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions to exist that were so intolerable that a reasonable person in  your position would have had no reasonable alternative other than to resign. This is “constructive discharge.”


What should I do if I am a victim of employment discrimination in California? 

I am repeating this because I am going to tell you something that you won’t hear many other places.  You need to consult with the best California employment lawyer that you can find as early as possible. That is, before you report the discrimination to the company (I talk about this later in this article). And, before you file an FEHA complaint and/or an EEOC complaint.
 
I’m not suggesting that you have to call my law firm or hire my law firm. I am suggesting that if you believe that you are the victim of employment discrimination in California, you should consult with the best, honest California employment lawyer that you can find.
 
I realize that many of you are looking for more information than this, so I provide fairly detailed explanation of what you should do if this is you.
 

How do I file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)?

The first step in filing a DFEH complaint, is to fill out an intake form. When you submit an intake form, this initiates an intake interview with a DFEH representative in order to determine whether a formal complaint will be accepted for an investigation.
         
Or, in the alternative if you don’t want to use the DFEH investigative process, you may instead obtain a Right-To-Sue notice and then file your own employment discrimination lawsuit.
 

What is a Right-to-Sue Notice in California?

To file a lawsuit under the FEHA, you must file a complaint and obtain a Right-to-Sue notice from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Once the DFEH has issued you a Right-to-Sue notice, the DFEH will not investigate your complaint.
 
You have one year from the date of the Right-to-Sue notice to file a lawsuit. You are going to need a lawyer in order to do this. I strongly recommend against even trying to do this yourself.
 
Rather than receiving a Right-to-Sue notice to file a lawsuit, you can ask the DFEH to investigate your complaint. If you so, you may still obtain a Right-to-Sue notice and file a lawsuit at a later time.
 
I recommend against going this route. One reason is that you may not include all the important facts or information in your complaint. It is always better to have a lawyer help you organize and understand the facts, circumstances, evidence and legal significance of your situation. 
 

What is administrative exhaustion for a California employment discrimination claim?        

  Under the FEHA, you must exhaust the administrative remedy provided by the statute by filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). You must obtain from the DFEH a notice of right to sue in order to be entitled to file a civil lawsuit based on violations of the FEHA.
 
Under California law, the timely filing of an administrative complaint is a prerequisite to the bringing of a civil action for damages under the FEHA.
 

What is the time limit for a FEHA/ employment discrimination complaint?

This is also called a “limitation period.” The FEHA provides that no complaint for any violation of its provisions may be filed with the Department “after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred,’ with an exception for delayed discovery.” Morgan v. Regents of University of California (2000) 88 Cal.App.4th 52, 63.
 
It is your (read: the plaintiff filing the lawsuit) burden to “plead and prove timely exhaustion of administrative remedies, such as filing a sufficient complaint with [DFEH] and obtaining a right-to-sue letter.’ ” Kim v. Konad USA Distribution, Inc. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1336, 1345.
 
Stated differently, you have one year to file your FEHA/ employment discrimination complaint.
 

Should I file a claim with the DFEH or the EEOC?

When you suffer workplace discrimination in California, the first step to take is to file a formal discrimination claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
 
As is laid out on the DFEH website. The DFEH and the EEOC agencies cooperate in processing discrimination claims. The DFEH has a work-sharing agreement with the EEOC. Where both DFEH and the EEOC have jurisdiction, you can file a complaint with either agency, and the agency where you file first will investigate.
 
Thus, filing a claim with both DFEH and the EEOC  isn’t necessary, provided you indicate that your claim should be “cross-filed.”
      
California employment law is more powerful and protects employees more than the federal employment laws. Thus, it is usually better to file with the DFEH.
In any event, the DFEH and the EEOC have a “work sharing agreement.” Meaning that if you file a claim with one of them, it is deemed filed with the other.
 

What if I work for a small business and I want to bring an employment discrimination case? 

The DFEH deals with businesses that have five or more employee. Although if your claim is for harassment, California law extends to employers with only one employee.
 
On the other hand, the EEOC only enforces federal law. It deals only with employers that more than fifteen or more employees. Or twenty or more for age discrimination claims.
 

How do I know if I am being discriminated against (or was discriminated against)?

It is rare that employment discrimination is in writing. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes not so subtle. Most companies realize that discrimination can lead to a lawsuit. And you can depend on the company almost always denying that you were discriminated against. There should be no surprise there.
 
However, there are signs or evidence of employment discrimination: 
 
-  Assign you different duties

-  Harassing you or others

-  Making derogatory comments about you or others

-  Racist “jokes”

- Using racist language in the workplace

- Using sexist workplace in the workplace

- Sexist “jokes”

-  Degrading you or others

-  Humiliating you or others

-  Make fun of you or others

-  Making fun or your or others accent

-  Failing to put a stop to racial jokes and/or ethnic jokes or comments
 
-  Failing to put a stop to sexual  jokes or sexist jokes or comments

- Certain groups of employees being treated differently from other employees

- Change of attitudes towards employees

- Change of work duties     

- Workload increases or decreases

- Different rules or enforcement of rules for workers

- Management allowing racist or sexist behavior

- Making fun or belittling people based upon their sexual orientation

- Making fun or belittling people based upon their national origin or accent

-  Failing to promote certain classes of employees 

- Giving choice work assignments to certain employees

- Derogatory comments in the workplace

- Firing people based upon age 

-  Having an “English-only” policy 

- Getting paid less

- Reducing your pay

-  Firing you/ terminating you/ discharging you

-  Forcing you to quit

-  Refusing to train you

-  Giving you bad or less desirable shifts

-  Showing favoritism

-  Giving others privileges

-  Giving others perks

-  Bullying you or other similar behavior

-  Any other form of treating you or others in the workplace differently
 

Can I sue my employer for failing to prevent employment discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation?

Yes, if your employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent employment harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation then you can sue your employer.
 

What are the deadlines for filing employment discrimination claims?

You must file your claim with the DFEH within one year of the date that you were discriminated against.
 
Under federal law, you must file a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the date your were discriminated against.
 

What is a “continuing violation” and will it extend the time I have to file a discrimination claim in California?

“A continuing violation may be established by demonstrating ‘a company wide policy or practice’ or ‘a series of related acts against a single individual.’ ‘The continuing violation theory generally has been applied in the context of a continuing policy and practice of discrimination on a company-wide basis; a plaintiff who shows that a policy and practice operated at least in part within the limitation period satisfies the filing requirements.” Morgan v. Regents of University of California (2000) 88 Cal.App.4th 52, 64.
 
“A systematic policy of discrimination is actionable (meaning: you can bring a lawsuit) even if some or all of the events evidencing its inception occurred prior to the limitations period. The reason is that the continuing system of discrimination operates against the employee and violates his or her rights up to a point in time that falls within the applicable limitations period. Such continuing violations are most likely to occur in the matter of placements or promotions.” ’ Morgan v. Regents of University of California (2000) 88 Cal.App.4th 52, 64.
 
You  must demonstrate that at least one act occurred within the filing period and that “the harassment is ‘more than the occurrence of isolated or sporadic acts of intentional discrimination.’ . . . The relevant distinction is between the occurrence of isolated, intermittent acts of discrimination and a persistent, on-going pattern.’ ” Morgan v. Regents of University of California (2000) 88 Cal.App.4th 52, 64.
 
Stated differently, you have one year to bring a lawsuit for employment discrimination in California. However, if some of the events that give rise to the lawsuit, occurred more than a year before, you may be able to use the “continuing violation” rule to show that the employer had a pattern and practice of discriminating.
 
Please note that this is an “argument” for getting more time to file your discrimination claim.  As in most legal arguments, it is better to avoid having to argue all together. Meaning, you should get your claim filed within the one year time frame.
 

Can the company be liable if I am discriminated against by a coworker?

Yes.
 
Under California law,  “When the harasser is a non-supervisory employee, employer liability turns on a showing of negligence. That is, the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate corrective action.” Rehmani v.Superior Court (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 945, 952.
 

How do I prove employment discrimination?

A discrimination case is a lawsuit. In order to win a lawsuit, you will need evidence. You will need to prove the “elements” of a discrimination case.
You will need to prove that you were subjected to an “adverse employment action.”  And you will need to prove that the unlawful discrimination was a substantial motivating reason for the adverse action. Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 232.
 
California Government Code “section 12940(a) prohibits an employer from taking an employment action against a person “because of” the person's race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic. The phrase “because of” means there must be a causal link between the employer's consideration of a protected characteristic and the action taken by the employer.” Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 215.
 
The plaintiff in an employment discrimination lawsuit must produce evidence sufficient to show that an illegitimate criterion was a substantial factor in the particular employment decision. Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 232.
 

What is a substantial motivating reason?

A “substantial motivating reason” is a reason that actually contributed to the  adverse employment action. It must be more than a remote or trivial reason. It does not have to be the only reason motivating the adverse employment action.
 CACI 2507.
 
“While a complainant need not prove that [discriminatory] animus was the sole
motivation behind a challenged action, he must prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that there was a ‘causal connection’ between the employee’s protected
status and the adverse employment decision.” Mixon v. Fair Employment and
Housing Com.
(1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1306, 1319.


What do I need in order to prove or win my employment discrimination case in California?

You need to prove that you are in a protected class. There is a list of protected classes earlier in this article.
 
You need to prove is that there was a ‘causal connection’ between your protected status and the adverse employment decision by your employer.
 
As with any lawsuit, you are going to need evidence.
 

So let’s talk evidence

Generally, in law, there are two types of evidence: direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.
 

What is direct evidence in a employment discrimination lawsuit?

Direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly, i.e., without an intervening inference. This is usually the best way to prove that discrimination occurred. This would include statements by the company management that directly related to adverse employment action that was taken against you.
 
For example, in one of my cases, a supervisor hit my client and while the employee was laying on the ground, the supervisor repeatedly kicked him while saying, “You fucking wet-back mother fucking Mexican pussy.”  (I apologize for the offensive language, but this was the actual evidence/ proof in the case of racial harassment). This is direct evidence that the protected class status was the reason for the workplace assault.
 
Direct evidence can be in the form of speech or statements written in letters, memos, or notes.
 
For example, an email that reads, “We need to let Adam go, because we are need to cultivate a younger image in order to boost sales.”  This would be direct proof of age discrimination
.

What is circumstantial evidence in a employment discrimination lawsuit?

Circumstantial evidence consists of a fact or set of facts which, if proven, will support the creation of an inference that what you are trying to prove, is true.  Many lawsuits are won with circumstantial evidence. It is difficult to get direct evidence that illegal discrimination occurred. Few supervisors and managers openly express their biases and prejudices.
 
So, in most cases, you will probably have to rely on circumstantial evidence in order to create a “presumption of discrimination.”
 

What is a “presumption of discrimination” in California employment law?

Under California law, when you bring an employment discrimination case you have the initial burden to make what the law calls “a prima facie case” of discrimination by showing that it is more likely than not that the employer has taken an adverse employment action based on a prohibited criterion.
 
A prima facie case establishes a presumption of discrimination. Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 354–356. 
 

What do I need to prove in order to get a “presumption of discrimination” under California employment law?

In order to get a presumption of discrimination, you will need to prove:
 
 1.   That you are a member of a protected class. For example, that you are Hispanic, African American, a woman, gay or over 40. 
 
 2.  That you are qualified for your position. For example, if you are bartender that you are an experienced bartender. 
 
 3.  That your employer took an adverse action against you? For example, were you not hired, not promoted, terminated, or someway treated differently. 
 
 4.  Were you replaced by a person who is not in your protected class? For example, if you were replaced, you were replaced by someone that was not in your protected class. For instance, If you are Hispanic, you were replaced by a Caucasian person. Although if there was a work reduction, you may not have to prove this. 
 
If you can prove these things, then there is “a presumption of discrimination,” under California law.


Can the employer rebut the “presumption of discrimination?”

The employer may rebut the presumption by producing evidence that its action was taken for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. If the employer discharges this burden, the presumption of discrimination disappears.
 
You must then show that the  employer's proffered nondiscriminatory reason was actually a pretext for discrimination. You may offer any other evidence of discriminatory motive. The ultimate burden of persuasion on the issue of discrimination remains with you, the plaintiff. Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 354–356. 


What kinds of evidence that will help me prove employment discrimination?

Here are some examples of evidence that will help you prove employment discrimination:
 
-  Are people in the protected class somehow treated differently?

-  Do managers or supervisors treat employees in the protected class with less respect? - Such as being, short, rude, offensive, mean? 

-  Are employees in the protected class treated unfairly?

-  Are protected employees passed over for promotion? 

-  Are protected employees ridiculed or belittled? 

-  Does the employer retain less qualified employees that are not in the protected class? 

-  Have you see people in the protected class singled out and criticized by management? 

- Are jokes made about protected employees?

- Are protected employees belittled? 

- Are protected employees treated unfairly?

- Are protected employees paid less?

- Are protected employees not given choice work assignments? 

- Do most of the perks and benefits usually seem to go to non-protected employees? 
 
You are usually trying to put together the most evidence as possible. Oftentimes, the best evidence is “me-too” evidence.
 

A No B.S. straight-shooter lawyer

Believe it or not, Bill Turley is known for being a no B.S. straight-up lawyer. Besides being known as one of the leading experts on employment law in California, one of the reasons why Bill is asked to testify at California legislature hearings is because he is known for being straight-forward and blunt. He is known for being no B.S., with no lawyer-talk, no double-talk. 

Best California employment discrimination lawyer - Bill Turley

 

What is “me-too” evidence under California employment discrimination law?

“Me-too” evidence is evidence of  bias against employees other than the plaintiff (read: you, the person bringing the lawsuit). California courts have held “me too” evidence admissible evidence in discrimination cases.
 
As with all evidence, the courts weigh the probative value of evidence vs. it’s prejudicial effect. The relevance of evidence concerning conduct toward nonparty employees is inherently “‘fact based and depends on many factors, including how closely related the evidence is to the plaintiff's circumstances and theory of the case.’” Johnson v. United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children's Foundation (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 740, 767.
 

Can I use “me-too” evidence in an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

Yes. Under California employment law, “me to” evidence is admissible in employment discrimination lawsuits.
 
“Me to” may be admissible to prove a defendant's motive or intent even where the conduct occurred outside the plaintiff's presence and at times other than when the plaintiff was employed by the company. Pantoja v. Anton (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 87, 115–116.
 

How is “me-too” evidence important in employment discrimination lawsuits? 

Me-too evidence can be powerful evidence in an employment discrimination lawsuit. Evidence that the company or supervisor was hostile, abusive or worse toward others of the same group as you, is very persuasive in convincing the jury and the court that you were discriminated against.
 

What if the company denies that they discriminated against me?

 
It is rare that the company/ your employer is going to admit that they discriminated against you.  Usually the company will be denying that they discriminated against you at all. Your employer will either deny that you were treated differently at all, or they will contend that they had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for their conduct.  
 
Once the company offers a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for their conduct, the “presumption of discrimination” is gone and you will have to prove you were discriminated against. The company will almost always come up with some legitimate reason for what they did.
 

What if the reason given by my employer for discriminating against me is a pretext or a cover-up?

A “pretext” is a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs. In other words, the company is covering up that they discriminated against you illegally.
 
You will need to prove that the company’s stated reason is a pretext or a cover-up.  In other words, the stated reason is untrue. Or that it is insufficient reason for the action taken against you.
 
You will need to prove that your protected status is more likely what motivated the company to take the adverse action against you. You do this by using the direct or circumstantial evidence that was discussed earlier in this article.
 
In other words you will have to prove that the company’s stated reason for taking action against you is not true AND that your protected status a substantial motivating reason for your termination, not being promoted and/or you’re being treated differently.
 

What is disparate impact?

Disparate impact is an employment practice that has a disproportionate adverse impact on the protected group of people.  It isn’t “intentionally” discriminatory. Meaning, there is not need to prove or suggest “intent.” But, the result is that the employment practice adversely affects a protected class of employees.
 
Disparate impact occurs when an employer has an employment practice that appears neutral but has an adverse impact on members of a protected group and
cannot be justified by business necessity. Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1390, 1405.
 
To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, you must show that the facially neutral employment practice had a significantly discriminatory impact.
 
If that showing is made, the employer must then demonstrate that any given requirement has a manifest relationship to the employment in question,  in order to avoid a finding of discrimination. Even in such a case, however, you may prevail, if you show that the employer was using the practice as a mere pretext for discrimination. City and County of San Francisco v. Fair Employment and Housing Com. (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 976, 985.
 
You may have to use valid statistical evidence in some circumstances in order to prove disparate impact discrimination. You may need this statistical evidence in order to prove causation. Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1390, 1405.
 

What is disparate treatment?

Disparate treatment is intentional employment discrimination. The employer simply treats some people less favorably than others because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin, or due to being in one of the protected classes. Mixon v. Fair Employment and Housing Com. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1306, 1317.
 
To succeed on a disparate treatment claim at trial, you have the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination.
 
Meaning, a set of circumstances that, if unexplained, permit an inference that it is more likely than not the employer intentionally treated you less favorably than others on prohibited grounds.
 
Based on the inherent difficulties of showing intentional discrimination, California courts have generally adopted a multi factor test to determine if a plaintiff was subject to disparate treatment.
 
In order to prevail in an employment disparate treatment lawsuit in California, you must generally show that:
 
 - You are a member of a protected class; 
 
 - You are qualified for the position you sought or being performed; 
 
 - You suffered an adverse employment action, and 
 
 - There were circumstances suggesting that the employer acted with a discriminatory motive.
 
The employer must show either that one of these elements cannot be established or that there were one or more legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons underlying the adverse employment action.” Jones v. Department of Corrections (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 1367, 1379.
 
Note that there are two causation elements. There must be a causal link between the discriminatory animus and the adverse action, and there must be a causal link between the adverse action and the damage. See Mamou v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc. (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 686, 713.
 
The ultimate issue is whether the employer acted with a motive to discriminate illegally. Wills v. Superior Court (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 143, 170–171.
 
While you don’t have to prove the discriminatory motive was the sole motivation behind a challenged action, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a causal connection between the employee’s protected status and the adverse employment decision. Mixon v. Fair Employment and Housing Com. (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1306, 1319.
 
You will have to show that discrimination was a substantial motivating factor. Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) 56 Cal.4th 203, 232.
 

Does California law make both "disparate treatment" and "disparate impact" discrimination illegal?

Yes, both  "disparate treatment" (intentional discrimination) and "disparate impact" (unintentional discrimination) are forms of discrimination that are illegal under California law.
 

How can I prove motive in an employment discrimination case?

In many ways, this is the one of the first questions your lawyer is going to ask you when you consult with a California employment lawyer about your employment discrimination case. 
 
In almost every case, motive is difficult to prove. But in some respects, you don’t have to prove motive. You have to prove the elements of disparate treatment as I laid them out a few paragraphs above in the section on disparate treatment.
 
You don’t need to “prove” motive in disparate impact cases.
 
I learned a long time ago, that you don’t necessarily need to prove motive. You only have to be able to credibly suggest motive. Meaning, circumstantial evidence (that I talked about previously in this article), will usually suffice.
 

Why does it help to show that someone “done something wrong?”

Generally, you want to show that the supervisor, management and/or company done something wrong. Or, more properly, someone did something wrong or wasn’t fair.  The more you can show unfairness, the more chance you have of winning.
 
Stated more plainly, you want to get your jury pissed off at the supervisor, management and/or company for that they did to you and/or your coworkers. An angry jury will be motivated to help you.
 
In order for you to prevail, you need to be able to show the jury that you are not only owed compensation, but that you deserve compensation due to the bad actions or bad omissions of the company.
 
That is, you want to motivate the jury with your evidence of the company doing bad things.
 

Do I have an employment discrimination case?

This is a common and understandable question. In order to have an employment discrimination case, you will have to establish that you are in protected class. You can still bring a wrongful termination case if you were fired, even if you are not a member of a protected class.
 
Next you will have to be able to show that you were subject to an adverse employment practice.  And that you were subjected to the illegal work practice due to being in the protected class.
 
I suggest that you contact the best, honest California employment lawyer in order to determine if you an employment discrimination case under California law.
 

Do I have an employment discrimination lawsuit, if the illegal conduct was directed at others?

If illegal conduct is directed toward others in your protected class and you witness the conduct then you can bring an employment discrimination  - directed at others claim. This is a hostile work environment claim.
 
In order to bring this claim, you will need to show that although you were not personally subjected to the harassing conduct, that you personally witnessed the harassing conduct that took place in your immediate work environment. And that a reasonable member of your protected class would consider the work environment to be hostile or abusive. CACI 2521b

How long to I have to file a lawsuit after I receive a Right to sue?

You have 90 days to file a lawsuit in federal court after you receive a Right to sue from the EEOC.
 
You have to get a Right to Sue notice before you can file a lawsuit. After the DFEH issues a Right to sue, you have one year to file a lawsuit in California State Superior Court.
          
If you claim was filed with the DFEH and it was dismissed, you have one year to file an employment discrimination lawsuit in California State Superior Court.
 

Do I have to file a discrimination complaint with the company first?

Generally, there are two types of discrimination claims under California employment law. The first is where the discrimination is directed toward you by a supervisor or management. In this type of discrimination case, there is no need to go to your company’s human resources and file a discrimination complaint with the company directly. This is because the company is deemed to know or the discrimination by a supervisor or management employee.
 
However, where the discrimination was directed against you by a co-employee or others; then your employer can only be liable if the employer was negligent. Similarly, then the discrimination is directed to others and it involves a coworker or others, then  the employer can only be liable if the company is found to be negligent.
 
The employer is negligent only if the employer knew or should have known that the harassment was occurring and the employer failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. California Government Code Section 12940.
 
 
California's leading employment lawyer - Bill Turley

California Employment Discrimination - How do I bring a discrimination lawsuit? Bill Turley

 

What money can I get for an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

The damages (or money) that you can receive in a California employment lawsuit in California will depend on a lot of different variables.  Generally, the more upsetting the conduct by the employer (that is, the worse the conduct); the more money damages that you may recover.  Some of the things that are considered are the length of the illegal conduct, the severity of the illegal conduct, the extent of the discrimination, the severity of the discrimination, whether you were subject to the discrimination directly or the discrimination was directed at others, and whether you were an employee or a job applicant. 
 
As with all jury trials, it really depends on the evidence, how the evidence comes in at time of trial, the makeup of your jury panel, the judge in your case, how the jury likes or dislikes you and how the jury likes or dislikes the company and/or the company management. 
 
Money damages from an employment discrimination lawsuit in California include: 
 
- Back wages

- Interest

- Future wages

- Loss of income

- Reduced pay

- Medical benefits 

- Dental benefits

- Pension benefits 

- Bonus payments

- Emotional Distress 

- Punitive damages

- Equitable remedies (for example, getting your job back) 

- Attorneys fees

- Costs of bringing the lawsuit
 
 

Can I be fired from work or retaliated against for filing an employment discrimination lawsuit?

Generally, it is illegal for an employer to fire you or retaliate against you for filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. If this happens to you, then you will have a separate lawsuit for retaliation.
 
You will need to prove that you were subjected to an adverse employment action. That you being subject to the adverse employment action (fired, demoted, etc.) was due to you fling an employment discrimination lawsuit. See California Government Code Section 12940(h); CACI 2505.
 
Retaliation in violation of the FEHA may be established by constructive discharge. That is, that the employer intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions to exist that were so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have had no reasonable alternative other than to resign. Steele v. Youthful Offender Parole Bd. (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1241, 1253

 

Clients smiling with their settlement checks from a California Unpaid Wages case.
It feels really good when you get your check for unpaid wages owed to you!



Are you going to stand up for your rights?

The fact of the matter is that employment discrimination is all too common in California. From small companies, to mid-sized companies to the largest companies in California. You may have worked in one of these companies.
 
The question you may now face is whether you are going to take the first step to hold the company accountable?  When you are discriminated against, you probably are incurring emotional distress. Not to mention the threat or real loss of wages.
 
California law protects you. But only if you take action.

How can I find out if I even have a case for employment discrimination in California?

This is a common question. Have you been discriminated against at your current or former job?  Have you been treated differently?  Have you been treated unfairly?
If your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, then you may be entitled to significant money compensation. 
 
Employment discrimination hurts. The law realizes this. This is why employment discrimination is illegal in California.
 
If you are wondering if you have a case for employment discrimination, I suggest that you reach out and talk to best, honest California employment lawyer that you can find.


How can I enforce my legal rights?

If you want to enforce your legal rights, you can contact us at 619-304-1000
Or leave a message on this web page
 

What if I need help right now?

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.

Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text.

Or leave us a message on this webpage

 
 
Disclaimer
 
This legal discussion is simplistic in order to achieve clarity.
 
Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Just because we have had great results in so many other California employment law cases, doesn't guarantee any particular result in your California discrimination case.
 
 

 
William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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