Employment Discrimination in California Based on Disability

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a person based on his or her physical or mental disability. Employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to disabled employees, unless doing so would result in undue hardship. Employees who are discriminated against based on their disability can file a lawsuit against their employer for damages.

Below, our California employment discrimination lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about lawsuits for disability discrimination against California workers:

Disability
The laws against discrimination based on disability also apply to perceived disabilities.

If you have further questions after reading this article, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

1. Can an employer in California refuse to hire someone with a disability?

In most cases, it is unlawful in California for an employer to discriminate against an applicant because of his or her physical or mental disability. Employment discrimination based on a real or perceived disability is a violation of California state and federal law.

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an individual based on mental disability or physical disability.1

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also protects applicants and employees from employment discrimination based on disability.2

The ADA and other employment anti-discrimination laws protect qualified individuals from discrimination based on disability. A “qualified individual” means an someone who can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.3

The ADA and California law also protect individuals with a disability from discrimination in the workplace. It is a violation for an employer to treat an employee less favorably because he or she has a history of disability, or is believed to have a physical or mental disability.

Under the FEHA, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against a person because of his or her disability, in any aspect of employment. This includes:

  1. Refusing to hire or employ
  2. Refusing to select a person for a training program
  3. Firing, bearing, or discharging an employee
  4. Discriminating against a person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment4

Disability discrimination is prohibited in any aspect of employment or hiring, including:

  • Refusing to hire
  • Refusing to select for a training program
  • Demotion
  • Reduced pay
  • Deny a promotion
  • Deny reinstatement
  • Deny benefits
  • Forcing an employee to quit
  • Harassment
  • Assign different duties
  • Discrimination in any way

Employers are required by law to evaluate job applicants without regard to their actual or perceived disabilities. Employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or applicant, unless it would cause undue hardship for the employer. Undue hardship is considered significant difficulty or expense.5

An employer cannot ask about the nature of an applicant's disability. However, employers can ask an applicant about whether they are able to perform job-related functions.

Employers cannot ask the applicant to take a medical or psychological exam if other prospective employees are not also required to take such exams, or if the examination is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Perceived Disability

The laws against discrimination based on disability also apply to perceived disabilities. It is not a defense to discrimination if the employer was wrong about the individual's actual disability.

For example, an employer may refuse to give a job to an applicant because the employer believes the applicant has impaired eyesight. If the applicant turns out to have no disability, the employer may still have violated the laws against employment discrimination based on the applicant's perceived disability

Similarly, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant because of the employee or applicant's spouse's disability, perceived or actual.

2. What disabilities are protected from discrimination by California and Federal law?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission intends the definition of “disability” to be construed as broadly as possible under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Disability under the FEHA applies to mental and physical disabilities.

A “mental disability”, according to the FEHA, includes, but is not limited to, any mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits a major life activity. Limitations are determined without regards to mediation, assistive devices, or reasonable accommodations.6

Mental disabilities may include chronic diseases, such as:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Clinical depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Dementia
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Specific learning disabilities

However, mental disabilities do not include impairments, such as:

  • Sexual behavior disorders
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Kleptomania
  • Pyromania
  • Impairment from drugs or alcohol

A “physical disability” includes disfigurements or diseases that affect the body and limit major life activities. This includes:

  • Physiological disease
  • Disorder
  • Condition
  • Cosmetic disfigurement
  • Anatomical loss 7

Physical disabilities include permanent and temporary conditions, including:

  • Impaired eyesight
  • Impaired hearing
  • Impaired speech
  • Chronic diseases
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Diabetes
  • Loss of a limb
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy and childbirth

The FEHA also includes the broader protections of individuals with mental or physical disabilities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.8

The ADA applies to individuals with:

  1. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
  2. a record of such an impairment; or
  3. being regarded as having such an impairment.9

Major life activities include the day-to-day activities that most people take for granted. This includes:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Bending
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Working 10

Major life activities also include the operation of major body functions, including:

  • Functions of the immune system
  • Normal cell growth
  • Digestive
  • Bowel
  • Bladder
  • Neurological
  • Brain
  • Respiratory
  • Circulatory
  • Endocrine
  • Reproductive functions 11

3. How do I know if I was discriminated against because of my disability?

Most discrimination in the workplace is subtle or takes place behind closed doors. It is not always easy to tell if someone is being discriminated against because of a disability. Employers are aware that outward discrimination could expose the company to a lawsuit. However, there may be signs of discrimination because of an employee's disability.

Signs of possible discrimination may be:

  • Sudden changes in job performance reviews
  • Exclusion from meetings and events
  • Change in work duties or workload increases
  • Reduced hours or reduced pay
  • Different rule enforcement involving workers with disabilities
  • Failing to put a stop to jokes about disabilities in the workplace
  • Making fun of an individual's physical disability or speech

Improper Interview Questions

Improper interview or application questions may be a sign of potential disability discrimination violations. This includes questions about an individual's:

  • General health
  • Medical condition
  • Mental disability
  • Physical disability
  • Requiring a psychological/medical examination of any applicant when not consistent with business necessary

4. What is a reasonable accommodation for a disability in the workplace?

Employers must provide “reasonable accommodation” for applicants and employees who are unable to perform the essential functions of the job because of their disability.12

Employers must also engage in a timely, good faith interactive process with employees in need of a reasonable accommodation. This is to determine whether a reasonable accommodation would allow the applicant or employee to complete the necessary functions to perform the job.13

A reasonable accommodation is any measure that would allow the employee or applicant to perform the essential job functions. This could include:

  • Restructuring the job
  • Modifying work schedules
  • Part-time scheduling
  • Reassignment to a vacant position
  • Adjustments to training materials
  • Providing readers or interpreters
  • Modifying equipment
  • Modifying work policies
  • Allowing a service dog to support the employee1415

An employer must provide reasonable accommodations unless the employer would produce “undue hardship.” Undue hardship means the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense.16

In determining undue hardship, a number of factors are taken into consideration, including:

  1. The nature and cost of the accommodation needed.
  2. The overall financial resources of the facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodations, the number of persons employed at the facility, and the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of these accommodations upon the operation of the facility.
  3. The overall financial resources of the covered entity, the overall size of the business of a covered entity with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type, and location of its facilities.
  4. The type of operations, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the entity.
  5. The geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities.17

Example: A gas station is looking for a graveyard shift cashier to work alone from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The cashier position requires the employee to sell gas and other products through the walk-up window. An applicant with vision impairment applies for the position.

After a timely, good faith interactive process, the employer determines the applicant is unable to use the cash register or handle money without the assistance of another employee. If the employer could not afford the cost of hiring a second employee to work the graveyard shift with the applicant, it may be an undue hardship to hire the applicant because it would cause significant expense.

5. Should I file a workplace discrimination complaint with the EEOC?

Disability discrimination in the workplace is a violation of California state law and federal law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal ADA disability discrimination laws. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the state agency that handles complaints of disability discrimination.

Before filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, an employee may want to work with a supervisor to resolve the issue. The employee could also contact the employer's human resources representative or reasonable accommodation coordinator. If there is still no resolution, the employee can file a complaint with the EEOC or the DFEH.

In some cases, California law offers broader protections for anti-discrimination cases than federal law. For example, California disability discrimination laws apply to employers with at least 5 employees. However, the ADA may only apply to employers with at least 15 employees. For this reason, some people in California prefer to file a disability discrimination complaint with the DFEH rather than the EEOC.

If an employee wants to file a lawsuit against his or her employer for disability discrimination in California, the employee is usually required to exhaust all administrative remedies first. This may mean the employee has to go through the DFEH complaint process before they can file a lawsuit. However, your attorney may file a complaint with the DFEH and obtain an immediate right to sue notice without waiting for the administrative process first.18

You can file a disability discrimination complaint directly with the DFEH. In general, you must submit a pre-complaint inquiry within one year of the last incident of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. However, there are exceptions to this time limit, such as where the individual did not learn about the unlawful practice until after the expiration of one year.19

The complaint can be filed online, by phone, or using the form from the DFEH website. The pre-complaint inquiry will initiate an intake interview with the DFEH and help determine whether a complaint can be accepted for investigation.

An investigator will contact the individual who filed the complaint within 60 days and discuss the details of the alleged discrimination or harassment. If the DFEH representative determines the state will not handle the complaint, the matter will be dismissed, and the individual has the immediate right to sue their employer in court. If the representative accepts the pre-complaint inquiry, a complaint will be prepared for your signature and delivered to the employer. The complaint can also be dual-filed with the EEOC at this point.

After the employer responds to the complaint, the DFEH will review the answer. In many cases, the DFEH will offer dispute resolution services, which provide a way for the employee and employer to negotiate a resolution to the complaint. If the complaint cannot be resolved through negotiations, the DFEH will initiate an investigation.

A disability discrimination investigation will determine whether there was a violation of California anti-discrimination laws. If the investigation finds there was a violation, the case will go the DFEH Legal Division. If there is no violation, the case will be closed. If the case is closed, the employee still has the immediate right to take their case to court.

The DFEH Legal Division generally requires the parties to go through mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral mediator helps the parties come together to find a mutually agreeable solution. In a successful mediation, the employer and employee will come up with a way to settle the dispute, without leaving it up to the courts to decide the outcome.

If the parties cannot settle the dispute through mediation, the DFEH could file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee against the employer. If the DFEH does not pursue the claim, it will close the investigation and the employee has the immediate right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

6. Can I sue my employer for disability discrimination in California?

Under California law, it is a civil right to have the opportunity to seek and hold employment without discrimination based on a physical or mental disability. Employees who are discriminated against because of their disability can file a lawsuit against their employers for unlawful discrimination.20

An employee generally has to file a complaint with the DFEH or EEOC before they can file a lawsuit in civil court. This requires obtaining a “right to sue” notice before your case can be taken to court.

You can request an immediate right to sue notice, without having to go through a complete DFEH or EEOC investigation. However, if you receive a Right-to-Sue notice, your complaint will not be investigated by DFEH. Alternatively, you may also wait until the DFEH dismisses your case or finds no violation before taking your case to court.21

According to the DFEH, proceeding directly to court without an investigation by the DFEH is only advisable if you have an attorney. Your attorney can obtain a right to sue notice and file your case in California Superior Court, in the county where the discrimination occurred, or other relevant county.22

The complaint will be served upon your employer and anyone else named in the lawsuit as defendants. The defendants will respond to the complaint with a formal answer responding to the allegations, and the case may proceed through litigation. At any point before the end of a trial, the employer and employee can negotiate a settlement and settle the case out of court.

7. What are my damages in an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?

The damages available in an employment discrimination lawsuit will depend on the extent of the discrimination and the type of the harm to the employee or job applicant. This may include money damages, punitive damages, and equitable remedies.

Money damages from employment discrimination based on disability may include losses from:

  • Back pay (with interest)
  • Front pay
  • Higher income from a promotion
  • Higher income from a raise
  • Benefits
  • Pension benefits
  • Bonus payments
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

A successful lawsuit can also result in equitable remedies. If a disabled employee was not hired based on his or her disability, the court can require the employer to hire the employee. The court can also require the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee.

Employees who have suffered employment discrimination or harassment based on disability can also seek damages for the cost of attorney's fees and court costs.23

In some cases, an employee may also eligible to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are a way to punish the behavior of the wrongdoer and act as a way to deter the employer or other employers from engaging in similar wrongful behavior in the future.

8. Can I be fired for filing a workplace discrimination or harassment lawsuit?

California workers cannot be retaliated against for reporting workplace discrimination against a co-worker or other employee.24

The FEHA protects employees who are retaliated against for:

  • Opposing workplace harassment
  • Opposing disability discrimination against other employees
  • Reporting disability discrimination or workplace harassment
  • Assisting with DFEH investigations or government inquiries

If an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting FEHA violations or other employment law violations, the employee may be able to file a complaint with the DFEH or file a lawsuit against the employer for retaliation or wrongful termination.

An employer cannot fire an employee for filing a workplace discrimination or harassment lawsuit. Firing an employee for filing a workplace discrimination claim is a retaliatory action, and may be considered "wrongful termination".25

Call us for help...

For questions about California disability discrimination laws, retaliation, or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our skilled California employment law attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local employment law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12940 -- Unlawful Practices. (“It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California: (a) For an employer, because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, to refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”)
  2. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Public Law 101-336. 108th Congress, 2nd session (July 26, 1990).Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, Section 102 -- Discrimination. (“(a) General rule - No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”)
  3. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 101 -- Definitions. (“(8) Qualified individual. - The term "qualified individual" means an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. For the purposes of this subchapter, consideration shall be given to the employer's judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.”)
  4. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12940, footnote 1 above.
  5. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 102 -- Discrimination. (“(1) Disability. - The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual-(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).”)
  6. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12926 -- Definitions. (“(j) “Mental disability” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following: (1) Having any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities, that limits a major life activity. For purposes of this section: (A) “Limits” shall be determined without regard to mitigating measures, such as medications, assistive devices, or reasonable accommodations, unless the mitigating measure itself limits a major life activity. (B) A mental or psychological disorder or condition limits a major life activity if it makes the achievement of the major life activity difficult. (C) “Major life activities” shall be broadly construed and shall include physical, mental, and social activities and working. (2) Any other mental or psychological disorder or condition not described in paragraph (1) that requires special education or related services. (3) Having a record or history of a mental or psychological disorder or condition described in paragraph (1) or (2), which is known to the employer or other entity covered by this part. (4) Being regarded or treated by the employer or other entity covered by this part as having, or having had, any mental condition that makes achievement of a major life activity difficult. (5) Being regarded or treated by the employer or other entity covered by this part as having, or having had, a mental or psychological disorder or condition that has no present disabling effect, but that may become a mental disability as described in paragraph (1) or (2). “Mental disability” does not include sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, or psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from the current unlawful use of controlled substances or other drugs.”)
  7. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12926 -- Definitions. (“(m) “Physical disability” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following: (1) Having any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that does both of the following: (A) Affects one or more of the following body systems: neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine. (B) Limits a major life activity. For purposes of this section: (i) “Limits” shall be determined without regard to mitigating measures such as medications, assistive devices, prosthetics, or reasonable accommodations, unless the mitigating measure itself limits a major life activity. (ii) A physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss limits a major life activity if it makes the achievement of the major life activity difficult. (iii) “Major life activities” shall be broadly construed and includes physical, mental, and social activities and working. (2) Any other health impairment not described in paragraph (1) that requires special education or related services. (3) Having a record or history of a disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, anatomical loss, or health impairment described in paragraph (1) or (2), which is known to the employer or other entity covered by this part. (4) Being regarded or treated by the employer or other entity covered by this part as having, or having had, any physical condition that makes achievement of a major life activity difficult. (5) Being regarded or treated by the employer or other entity covered by this part as having, or having had, a disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, anatomical loss, or health impairment that has no present disabling effect but may become a physical disability as described in paragraph (1) or (2). (6) “Physical disability” does not include sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, or psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from the current unlawful use of controlled substances or other drugs.”)
  8. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12926 -- Definitions. (“(n) Notwithstanding subdivisions (j) and (m), if the definition of “disability” used in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) would result in broader protection of the civil rights of individuals with a mental disability or physical disability, as defined in subdivision (j) or (m), or would include any medical condition not included within those definitions, then that broader protection or coverage shall be deemed incorporated by reference into, and shall prevail over conflicting provisions of, the definitions in subdivisions (j) and (m).”)
  9. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 3 -- Definition of Disability. (“(5)(a) not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless such covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity.”)
  10. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 3 -- Definition of Disability. (“(2) Major life activities. (A) In general. For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.”)
  11. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 3 -- Definition of Disability. (“(2) Major life activities. (B) Major bodily functions. For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.”)
  12. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12940 -- Unlawful Practices. (“It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California: (m) (1) For an employer or other entity covered by this part to fail to make reasonable accommodation for the known physical or mental disability of an applicant or employee. Nothing in this subdivision or in paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (a) shall be construed to require an accommodation that is demonstrated by the employer or other covered entity to produce undue hardship, as defined in subdivision (u) of Section 12926, to its operation.”)
  13. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12940 -- Unlawful Practices. (“It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California: (n) For an employer or other entity covered by this part to fail to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with the employee or applicant to determine effective reasonable accommodations, if any, in response to a request for reasonable accommodation by an employee or applicant with a known physical or mental disability or known medical condition.”)
  14. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12926 -- Definitions. (“(p) “Reasonable accommodation” may include either of the following: (1) Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. (2) Job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.”)
  15. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 101 -- Definitions. (9) Reasonable accommodation. - The term "reasonable accommodation" may include - (A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and (B) job restructuring, part-­time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.”)
  16. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 101 -- Definitions. (10) Undue hardship. (A) In general. The term "undue hardship" means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of the factors set forth in subparagraph (B). (B) Factors to be considered. In determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on a covered entity, factors to be considered include (i) the nature and cost of the accommodation needed under this chapter; (ii) the overall financial resources of the facility or facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodation; the number of persons employed at such facility; the effect on expenses and resources, or the impact otherwise of such accommodation upon the operation of the facility; (iii) the overall financial resources of the covered entity; the overall size of the business of a covered entity with respect to the number of its employees; the number, type, and location of its facilities; and (iv) the type of operation or operations of the covered entity, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of such entity; the geographic separateness, administrative, or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities in question to the covered entity.”)
  17. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12926 -- Definitions. (“(u) “Undue hardship” means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of the following factors: (1) The nature and cost of the accommodation needed. (2) The overall financial resources of the facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodations, the number of persons employed at the facility, and the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of these accommodations upon the operation of the facility. (3) The overall financial resources of the covered entity, the overall size of the business of a covered entity with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type, and location of its facilities. (4) The type of operations, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the entity. (5) The geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities.”)
  1. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12960. (“(b) Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice may file with the department a verified complaint, in writing, that shall state the name and address of the person, employer, labor organization, or employment agency alleged to have committed the unlawful practice complained of, and that shall set forth the particulars thereof and contain other information as may be required by the department. The director or his or her authorized representative may in like manner, on his or her own motion, make, sign, and file a complaint.”)
  2. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12960. (“(d) No complaint may be filed after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred, except that this period may be extended as follows: (1) For a period of time not to exceed 90 days following the expiration of that year, if a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful practice after the expiration of one year from the date of their occurrence. (2) For a period of time not to exceed one year following a rebutted presumption of the identity of the person's employer under Section 12928 , in order to allow a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice to make a substitute identification of the actual employer. (3) For a period of time, not to exceed one year from the date the person aggrieved by an alleged violation of Section 51.7 of the Civil Code becomes aware of the identity of a person liable for the alleged violation, but in no case exceeding three years from the date of the alleged violation if during that period the aggrieved person is unaware of the identity of any person liable for the alleged violation. (4) For a period of time not to exceed one year from the date that a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice attains the age of majority.”)
  3. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12921. (“(a) The opportunity to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination because 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, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right.”)
  4. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12965 -- Unlawful Practices. (“(b) If a civil action is not brought by the department within 150 days after the filing of a complaint, or if the department earlier determines that no civil action will be brought, the department shall promptly notify, in writing, the person claiming to be aggrieved that the department shall issue, on his or her request, the right-to-sue notice.”)
  5. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12965 -- Unlawful Practices. (“(b) ... The superior courts of the State of California shall have jurisdiction of those actions, and the aggrieved person may file in these courts. An action may be brought in any county in the state in which the unlawful practice is alleged to have been committed, in the county in which the records relevant to the practice are maintained and administered, or in the county in which the aggrieved person would have worked or would have had access to the public accommodation but for the alleged unlawful practice, but if the defendant is not found within any of these counties, an action may be brought within the county of the defendant's residence or principal office.”)
  6. Fair Employment and Housing Act 12965 -- Unlawful Practices. (“(b) ... In civil actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party, including the department, reasonable attorney's fees and costs, including expert witness fees.”)
  7. Government Code 12940 GC -- Employers, labor organizations, employment agencies and other persons; unlawful employment practice; exceptions FEHA wrongful termination / retaliation. ("It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California: . . . (h) For any employer, labor organization, employment agency, or person to discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against any person because the person has opposed any practices forbidden under this part or because the person has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under this part.")
  8. California Code of Regulations (CCR) tit. 2, § 11021. ("a) FEHA Retaliation Generally. It is unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to demote, suspend, reduce, fail to hire or consider for hire, fail to give equal consideration in making employment decisions, fail to treat impartially in the context of any recommendations for subsequent employment that the employer or other covered entity may make, adversely affect working conditions or otherwise deny any employment benefit to an individual because that individual has opposed practices prohibited by the Act or has filed a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted by the Council or Department or its staff. (1) Opposition to practices prohibited by the Act includes, but is not limited to: (A) Seeking the advice of the Department or Council, whether or not a complaint is filed, and if a complaint is filed, whether or not the complaint is ultimately sustained; (B) Assisting or advising any person in seeking the advice of the Department or Council, whether or not a complaint is filed, and if a complaint is filed, whether or not the complaint is ultimately sustained; (C) Opposing employment practices that an individual reasonably believes to exist and believes to be a violation of the Act; (D) Participating in an activity that is perceived by the employer or other covered entity as opposition to discrimination, whether or not so intended by the individual expressing the opposition; or (E) Contacting, communicating with or participating in the proceeding of a local human rights or civil rights agency regarding employment discrimination on a basis enumerated in the Act.")

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