Effective Jan. 1, 2020, You Now Have 3 Years in California to Pursue Your Discrimination or Harassment Claims Under FEHA

There are many ways that you can lose an Oakland employment discrimination case. You can lose because you don’t enough evidence to support your case. You can also lose because, even though you have a mountain of extremely persuasive proof, you did not comply with the state’s procedural rules in pursuing your lawsuit. This can happen in a variety of ways, but one of the big ones is missing the deadline for filing a discrimination claim. In the past, the Fair Employment and Housing Act said that you only had one year to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Wait more than one year – even if it was just 53 weeks – and your case could be thrown out.

Now, it will be harder for employers to dodge liability based on this kind of deadline argument. As of January 1, 2020, the law in California says that you have three years, not one, to take action. So, if you have been the victim of discrimination at work and it happened more than 12 months ago, don’t give up! Reach to an experienced employment attorney right away to discover more about the legal options available to you.

Back in October, with Gov. Newsom’s signature, AB 9 became law. That bill said that, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the limitations period (a/k/a the time period for pursuing legal action) in FEHA discrimination cases would be three years. Until Jan. 1, 2020, the law said that that time period was just one year. (These deadline periods refer to the period of time you have to file an administrative charge with the DFEH. The filing of that administrative charge is something that you must do first before you are entitled to sue in court, and it is mandatory.)

If you’ve followed much of news reporting regarding AB 9, you probably know that a big force that fueled the state to make this change was the #metoo movement in opposition to sexual harassment. Indeed, one of the committees that looked at AB 9 stated that #metoo had “shed light on the fact that it often takes time” to find the courage and support to make allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

While a desire for stronger measures that would do more to curtail sexual harassment may have been a driving force behind the new law, it is very important to understand that the new law establishes a three-year limitations period for all FEHA claims, not just claims alleging sexual harassment or sexual violence. Whether your boss groped your body, demanded sex in exchange for your continued employment, fired you for becoming pregnant, promoted a younger and less-experienced person over you, joked that all Middle Eastern Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, refused to hire you because of your disability or called you the N-word, you now have three years to file with DFEH.

Having the option of extra time doesn’t necessarily mean you should wait to act

Even though you now have extra time, that doesn’t mean that you should wait to take action. Depending on the specifics of the discrimination or harassment you suffered, it may be to your advantage to proceed as quickly as possible. This may help you get evidence “on the record” before your witnesses’ memories become faded due to time or you may lose witnesses due to unavailability.

In short, reach out right away to legal counsel to find out what your next steps should be and how quickly you should take them. The Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch is here to give you the advice and counsel you need. Attorney Fuerch is an experienced Oakland employment attorney who has helped many California workers seek justice after they’ve been the victims of discrimination or harassment. To learn more, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.