Discrimination has been a major predicament in most employment places in California. Despite the presence and implementation of various California labor laws; this type of employment-related claim is still evident.
In California, employees who wish to file legal charges regarding discrimination cannot do so until they first file “charges” with the federal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and acquire “right to sue” letters. This process is called “administrative exhaustion.”
Fortunately, the systems are now automated and charges can be filled out online at the DFEH’s and EEOC’s websites. However, you can still opt to mail your charge using the DFEH’s form. Moreover, the EEOC allows you to mail in a letter constituting the following:
- Your complete name, address, and mobile or telephone number
- The name, address, and contact details of the employer (or employment agency or union) you want to file your charge against
- The number of employees employed in the company
- A brief description of the events you believe were prejudiced (e.g. demotion, firing, termination, harassment)
- The time when the events took place
- Why you believe you were discriminated against (on the basis of your gender, color, race, religion, disability, age, or national origin for example)
- Your signature
In general, employees who file complaints with the EEOC intend to pursue federal employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the like.
On the other hand, employees who file with the DFEH intend to pursue state employment discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and medical leave claims under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
For strict compliance, employees should file with the EEOC no later than 180 days after the unlawful action has happened. For the DFEH, the time limit is one year.