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Filing employee claims of discrimination and retaliation

Employees in California are often unaware of their right to have protection for retaliation and their right to be protected from discrimination on the job. When there are activities or behaviors taking place at work that fall into the category of retaliation or discrimination, there are certain procedures for employees to follow regarding the filing of the complaint with the Labor Commissioner. It is important to follow these procedures to ensure that the case will be valid.

When filing a complaint, the employee or applicant for employment who believes that discrimination or retaliation was taking place must file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Employment (DLSE). This must be done within six months of the alleged adverse action. Some examples of an adverse action include reduced hours, reduced pay, refusal to hire, refusal to promote, being suspended, being demoted and being unlawfully discharged.

Some workers will have exceptions to this six-month rule. If the complaint is stemming from retaliation or discrimination because the employee was a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, then the time limit is one year of when the violation took place. If the complaint is due to a worker being paid less than a worker who is of the opposite sex but is doing the same work, there is a time limit of two years from when the violation occurred. A complaint that alleges discrimination or retaliation for a complaint regarding licensing violations or other laws connected to day care facilities for children must be filed within 90 days of the adverse action.

Once the complaint has been filed using the correct forms, there will be a review to ensure that the DLSE has jurisdiction. A key point is that filing this type of case also allows the person to file a private lawsuit to be compensated. Employees who have been subjected to wrongful termination, faced a failure to pay benefits or have other justifications for employment claims need to have a full understanding of their employee rights to know whether or not they have the basis for a lawsuit. Speaking to an attorney can provide this information and assistance.

Source: dlr.ca.gov, "Retaliation and Discrimination Complaints -- A Summary of Procedures -- Filing the Complaint," accessed on July 19, 2016

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