Workers now have one year to file a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit against their employer with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1947 into law on Sept. 30.

Before the measure became law, employees had six months after a violation occurred to file a complaint for cases involving discrimination over age, race, sexual orientation, disability, sex and gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin and family responsibilities.

Recovery for retaliation claims can include attorney fees

Also, as part of the statute, plaintiffs can recover “reasonable” attorney fees against employers who violate Labor Code 1102.5, which prohibits companies from creating or enforcing any rules, regulations or policies that seek to prevent workers from disclosing violations of federal, state and local laws in the workplace.

In California and across the country, retaliation is, by far, the most common discrimination complaint among workers. Retaliation can take many different forms when employers purposefully or unknowingly take illegal actions against their employees.

While the new law extends the statute of limitations for workers to file discrimination and retaliation lawsuits to one year, it should be noted that employees have different deadlines to file other types of claims with the DLSE, such as three years for wage and hour violations.

Newsom signs slew of new employment laws

Assembly Bill 1947 was just one of several employment bills signed into law by the governor in September. The new rules aim to protect workers as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic, require smaller employers to offer paid family leave and force companies to submit more demographic information on their workers so the state can identify pay disparities for people of color and women.