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The Fair Employment and Housing Act

The Fair Employment and Housing Act provides protection to employees from illegal employment practices. Employers are subject to the Fair Employment and Housing Act in case they have five or more employees.

Under FEHA, an employer is prohibited from taking adverse action against his employee based on discrimination or retaliation. The Fair Employment and Housing Act also provides protection to employees from harassment, failing to take necessary steps to prevent harassment and discrimination, and failing to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or mental or physical disability.

Forms of Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

Workplace harassment and discrimination can be in different forms, including cases of:

In case there is proof that the employer failed to take the required steps to protect his employee from discrimination or harassment at the workplace, the employee may have been eligible to take legal action against his employer.

What Must the Employee Prove?

To bring a successful claim against the employer a plaintiff must be able to establish the following elements:

  • The plaintiff was engaged in a protected activity
  • Employer subjected the employee to an adverse employment action
  • The plaintiff suffered harm
  • Employer’s actions were the main reason of causing harm to the plaintiff

What Are Considered Protected Activity?

Protected activity can include the following:

  • Making a charge
  • Testifying
  • Assisting
  • Participating in any manner in hearings or proceedings under the statutes

It is illegal for an employer to terminate his employee who threatened to file a charge of employment discrimination against him.

Adverse Employment Action

Adverse employment action according to the Fair Employment and Housing Act is an action that materially affects the conditions, terms, or privileges of employment.

Statute of Limitations for Bringing a Claim

According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the employee must file the discrimination claims within the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within 1 year from the date of the discrimination.

The Process of Filing a Complaint or Lawsuit Against an Employer

Department of Fair Employment and Housing Complaint Against an Employer

Filing a complaint with the DFEH is required before the employee can file a lawsuit pursuant to the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

An online form to file a complaint against an employer can be found on the DFEH website.

Filling a Lawsuit Against an Employer

When a person files a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, he/she can either:

  • Request that the department issue a “right to sue” notice immediately.
  • Decline to make that request. In this case, the department can still issue a “right to sue” notice but only after they have led an investigation

Thus, an employee is only eligible to file a lawsuit over the Fair Employment and Housing Act retaliation or discrimination after getting a “right to sue” notice from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

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