The California Fair Employment and Housing Act establishes base-level protections against employment discrimination in California. It prohibits discrimination related to the workplace on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (40 and above), sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person.

What does employment discrimination look like in California? Because employment discrimination relates to all business practices, it can take many forms. Beginning with advertising new job listings, employment discrimination rules ban discrimination not just during the process of getting the job, but also everything related to having the job. This means that California employers cannot discriminate among their employees on the basis of protected characteristics in any setting, such as screening, interviewing, hiring, promoting, firing, transferring, and more. It also relates to working conditions, compensation, mentorship, etc.

Notably, employment discrimination often doesn’t fit a specific mold. For example, California courts have prohibited language discrimination based on a broad interpretation of national origin. This means that California employers cannot establish “English only” policies in the workplace.

Whether in the interview or in the workplace, employers may not discriminate against members of protected classes. If you believe you have suffered employment discrimination on the basis of your race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected class, Pride Legal can help you protect your rights.

How to File an Employment Discrimination Claim in California

To begin the process for an employment discrimination claim, one must file their claim with one of two departments: With the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (the DFEH), or if you are a federal employee, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC). You do not need to file with both agencies, but it’s worth noting that workplace discrimination rules apply more broadly in California than they do at the federal level– to any employer with five or more employees, as opposed to fifteen.
If you wish to file with the DFEH, you may follow their guide here. If you wish to file with the EEOC, you may follow their guide here. In either case, proper representation is critical, and Pride Legal has many skilled attorneys who can help you navigate this process.

What Makes for a Strong Employment Discrimination Claim in California?

t’s important to know how to establish a strong claim for employment discrimination. A strong case of employment discrimination will contain specifics facts and records of any incidents, including the identities of any witnesses and, of course, the person or entity who committed the discrimination.

What Are My Available Remedies?

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has identified a long list of available remedies, including hiring, front pay, back pay, promotion, reinstatement, cease-and-desist orders, policy changes, training, reasonable accommodations, expert witness fees, reasonable attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and emotional distress damages.


Q: Who can file a complaint of employment discrimination?

A: Any individual who works for applies to work for an employer may file a valid complaint of employment discrimination. This includes traditional employees, independent contractors, unpaid interns, volunteers, and even unhired applicants. The DFEH will accept a complaint from any such individual and determine how best to move forward, just as it would with traditional employees. Notably, employment discrimination rules apply to all California workers regardless of their state or national citizenship or immigration status.

Q: What happens after I file with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing?

A: Once the complainant files with the DFEH, the DFEH will conduct an investigation to determine whether the allegations are provable. The DFEH generally has up to a year to complete its investigation and determine whether to move forward with a lawsuit. If it decides to move forward, it will file suit on behalf of itself, with the complainant being a party in interest. The complainant will not be responsible for legal fees, expert witness fees, etc., but it will receive 100% of any recovery (other than reimbursement for legal fees, etc.).

Q: Can employers discriminate based on employment gaps?

A: Having an employment gap on your resume is an unfortunate reality for many job applicants. Because it is not a protected characteristic, employers can legally discriminate between applicants based on employment gaps. Therefore, the best way to approach this challenge is to work on interviewing skills and how to address any employment gaps, rather than to seek legal retribution.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.