Filing an Employment Discrimination Suit? Be Prepared!
- Oct 14 2013 Gilleon Law Firm
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment based on a number of protected classes including race, religion, gender, age and disability. A victim of discrimination has one year from the date of the last discriminatory act to file a complaint of discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). FEHA also authorizes a victim of employment discrimination to file a private lawsuit. However, a complainant must first exhaust all administrative remedies with the DFEH and obtain a Notice of Right to Sue.
Steps to filing your lawsuit
Before filing your complaint with DFEH, it is extremely important to meet with an experienced employment discrimination attorney. To prepare for your meeting with your attorney before filing the lawsuit, we recommend you do the following:
- Keep a detailed diary. Even if you have a good memory, it may take years before your complaint of racial discrimination is resolved. Keep an accurate and descriptive record of relevant events. For example, if your supervisor made a racially charged remark, write down what was said, where it was said and a list of witnesses, if any. Detailed testimony helps the jury to believe you instead of your employer.
- Follow rules. It is very important to follow your company’s racial discrimination and sexual harassment policies. Companies should display posters describing the company’s policies and procedures on what to do in case an employee feels victimized. Jurors and judges will look more favorably on a plaintiff who exhausted all internal remedies before filing suit.
- Do not fan the flames. One of the best defenses to sexual harassment or a hostile work environment is a co-worker or manager who claims he or she was “just joking around” while you, the plaintiff, laughed along with everybody else. If you do not approve of the behavior, express your disapproval clearly.
- Collect the evidence. Most discrimination cases do not turn on a “smoking gun.” Employment discrimination is proven through a series of acts taken by a supervisor and/or co-workers. Before meeting your lawyer, gather all of the discriminatory pictures, cartoons and emails you’ve saved.
Being the victim of illegal employment discrimination is more than humiliating — it affects your mental and physical health as well as your relationships with others. If you feel you’ve suffered discrimination on the job, follow the steps above and contact an experienced San Diego employment discrimination attorney.