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GOOD News: The Time To File Claims With The Department Of Fair Employment And House Just Got Longer

  • As of January 1, 2020, California employees now have three years to file discrimination, harassment, and retaliation charges. Previously, employees only had one year. However, recently California passed Assembly Bill 9 (AB 9).  AB 9 expanded the statute of limitations for filing Fair Employment and House Act (FEHA) claims with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The previous one-year statute of limitations has now been expanded to three years. This means that from the date an unlawful practice occurred (e.g., wrongful termination), California employees will now have three years to file their FEHA claims, as opposed to just one year. As a matter of procedure, an employee must file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) before he or she can file a lawsuit alleging FEHA claims. The employee must obtain a “Right-to-Sue” notice from DFEH to file a lawsuit under FEHA. Once the employee receives a Right-to-Sue notice, the employee will then need to comply with a statute of limitations of one year for filing the FEHA claim in the California court system. Thus, ultimately, an employee will have three years to file a claim with the DFEH and then, after receiving a Right-to-Sue notice, an additional one year to file the claim in the California court system. Generally, statutes of limitations are enacted to encourage prompt actions. Typically, the longer someone waits to file a lawsuit from the time of the incident, the less accurate witnesses’ memories will be, or documents may be lost. Courts do not want this. However, following the #MeToo movement, AB 9 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom to provide room for victims of sexual harassment to recover from their traumatic experiences without feeling the need to file a claim within one year. Now, the law is applied more broadly, providing a three-year statute of limitations for employees of protected categories under FEHA against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  Some protected categories under FEHA include but are not limited to:
    • Race, color
    • Ancestry, national origin
    • Religion, creed
    • Age (40 and over)
    • Disability, mental and physical
    • Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions)
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity, gender expression
    • Medical condition
    • Genetic information
    • Marital status
    • Military or veteran status
    It should be noted that the above is not an exclusive list of claims under FEHA. If you are a California employee that has experienced discrimination, harassment, and/or discrimination that violates FEHA, it is important to take the time needed to process what happened, determine what actions you want to take, and if applicable, hire an attorney.  Further, always contact an attorney for advice at the first sign of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, so they can help your preserve your rights if a lawsuit is necessary. As an employee in California, you should know your rights. California employees generally have more rights than employees in other states, so it is important to always find the best attorneys to help as soon as possible if you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, or have had your rights as an employee violated, please feel free to contact