Age discrimination unfairly impacts many workers and those looking for work each year, and COVID-19 appears to have only worsened the problem. Victims of age discrimination may have a claim against their employer or against a business that did not hire them because of their age. Understanding how to file an age discrimination complaint in California is an essential first step in asserting your rights under California and federal law.
King & Siegel LLP fights for the rights of wronged workers throughout California. We dedicate our time and resources to rooting out unjust and discriminatory practices and representing clients on a contingency basis, meaning our clients only pay if we win.
Where Do I File an Age Discrimination Claim in California?
One of the first steps of how to file an age discrimination complaint in California is determining where to file your claim.
If you have experienced age discrimination in California, you have several options. You can submit a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (previously called the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)) or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC enforces federal laws against discrimination, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act of 2021 (POWADA). It also investigates discrimination claims and oversees disputes between employers, employees, or applicants.
The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) enforces California’s laws against workplace discrimination, such as the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Like the EEOC, the California CRD also investigates age discrimination claims filed by workers in California and oversees the dispute resolution process.
If I File a Complaint with the EEOC, Do I Need to File One with the California CRD?
If you file a complaint with the EEOC, it is concurrently filed with the California CRD without you having to take further action. Likewise, filing a complaint with the California CRD results in it being filed with the EEOC through a work-sharing agreement the agencies have with one another.
Typically, whichever department received the initial complaint will take the lead on the investigation.
If I File a Complaint with the EEOC or California CRD, Can I Still File an Age Discrimination Lawsuit?
You may file a lawsuit against your employer before or even after you file a complaint with the California CRD or EEOC. To do so, you must obtain a “right to sue” notice from the California CRD or EEOC. Once you receive the right-to-sue notice, you typically have one year to file a lawsuit against the at-fault employer.
Before you obtain a right-to-sue notice, it is essential to talk to an age discrimination attorney you trust. When you get a right-to-sue notice, you may forfeit your right to use the investigation and dispute resolution processes provided by the EEOC and California CRD. Sometimes, this may be advantageous or necessary to protect your rights. Other times, it may create an uphill battle for you. An employment law attorney can help you understand which option is in your best interest.
How Long Do I Have to File a Discrimination Complaint?
The law imposes strict deadlines on when you must file a discrimination complaint with the appropriate agency or court. An employment attorney can help you understand and meet this deadline. If you miss the deadline, you may be barred from bringing a case against your employer.
The Deadline to File a Complaint with the EEOC
In most situations, you must file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days after the date on which the discriminatory conduct occurred. In some cases, this deadline may be extended to 300 days.
The Deadline to File a Complaint with the California Civil Rights Division
You must file a complaint in many cases within three years of the discriminatory conduct. For this reason, many California workers prefer to file before the CRD, rather than filing federal claims. There may be other advantages to filing in State court as well. You should talk to an employment attorney to understand what is best for your situation.
The Deadline to File a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Employer
Once you receive a right-to-sue notice, you generally have one year to file a lawsuit against the employer.
What Happens After I File a Complaint?
After you file a complaint with the appropriate agency, the department conducts an investigation to gather additional information. This typically includes speaking with you about what happened and interviewing other parties (such as the hiring manager or witnesses). The department checks to see if the employer violated a law it enforces (such as the FEHA or ADEA).
Then, if it determines there is a possible violation, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations and mediation. If these are unsuccessful, the department may issue a right-to-sue notice to allow the complainant an opportunity to litigate the case in court.
Are There Laws That Protect Me Against Retaliation for Filing a Claim?
Yes. Your employer is prohibited from taking any adverse action against you because you filed a claim with the EEOC or CRD. If your employer takes adverse action against you (such as firing you or docking your pay), you may have a retaliation claim against them.
King & Siegel LLP: We Can Help You File an Age Discrimination Complaint in California
Living and working are challenging enough without discriminatory employers making things harder for workers. Our team fights to identify and root out these insidious practices, advocating for victims of age discrimination in the workplace. Julian Burns King leads our firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas and has served as lead counsel on many cases on behalf of wronged workers that led to six and seven-figure settlements.
If you are the victim of age discrimination, we can help. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.