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Preparing for a Discrimination Lawsuit

Experienced Attorneys Assisting California Employees

As a California employee, you are entitled to come to a workplace that is free of illegal discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on characteristics protected under the law. Your employer may be aware of anti-discrimination laws, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it may not admit the true discriminatory reasons for its actions, whether it fails to hire you, demotes you, or fires you. Accordingly, your attorney must carefully prepare your case for trial, even if it turns out that you settle. If you need assistance with preparing for a discrimination lawsuit, you should consult the California employment discrimination lawyers at The Nourmand Law Firm.

Preparing for a Discrimination Lawsuit

FEHA is widely considered a very protective anti-discrimination law. Employers can be held accountable for violating FEHA if they have at least five employees. You will need to show that there is a causal relationship between your employer’s illegally motivated job decision or workplace policy and the injury that you sustained. In a discrimination lawsuit, you will need to provide objective evidence of the discriminatory conduct, as well as the harm that you suffered as a result.

In some cases, such as those involving harassment based on a protected characteristic, or cases in which there are multiple conversations with a supervisor or manager that are suspicious, it may be appropriate to keep a contemporaneous journal. In the journal, you should write down negative statements or intimidation that happens in connection with your protected classification as these events occur. You should specify precisely the actions that you found discriminatory or harassing in the journal, rather than simply noting that you felt discriminated against or harassed. If you notify your employer of discrimination or harassment, you should provide notice in writing.

Proving Discrimination

There are two broad categories of discrimination claims. The first is a disparate treatment claim. To establish this type of claim, you will need to show that the defendant was your employer, you were an employee or a job applicant of the defendant, the defendant subjected you to an adverse employment action, such as termination or demotion (or it constructively discharged you), your protected classification was a motivating reason for the adverse employment action, you were harmed, and the defendant’s actions were a substantial factor in causing your harm.

A constructive discharge happens if your employer makes your continued employment so challenging based on your protected characteristic that it forces you to quit. It can be extremely challenging to prepare a constructive discharge lawsuit, so it is especially important to take contemporaneous notes about the behavior that you find intolerable. You should also talk to an attorney before you quit to make sure that the court would also find the behavior objectionable.

In a disparate impact case, you will be alleging that a practice that seems valid is papering over a more subtle type of discrimination. The question in these cases is whether an employer’s actions or practices are neutral on their face, but tend to have an adverse impact on people in a particular protected class.

Preponderance of the Evidence

When you are preparing for a discrimination lawsuit, it can be helpful to understand standards of proof. Under FEHA, you will need to show that a preponderance of the evidence supports the elements of your claim. In other words, you will need to show that your claim is more likely true than not. Often, we cannot point to a document that explicitly says that an employer was substantially motivated by discriminatory animus. Instead, we will need to look into the facts surrounding the adverse employment action that you faced and point these out to the jury.

Even before we file a lawsuit, you can request your employment records. Once a complaint is filed, we can make requests for further documentation and other evidence. We can ask the employer’s agents to testify. Your employer will also be entitled to ask you for documents and testimony.

Filing a Charge

Before you can file a discrimination lawsuit, you must file a charge with an administrative agency. The state agency that enforces FEHA is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). It can be helpful to talk to a lawyer before you file your charge, but you should do so right away because there are time limits.

Consult a Seasoned California Attorney About Your Discrimination Lawsuit

You may be able to hold your employer accountable for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by bringing a lawsuit under FEHA or one of the federal laws. The Nourmand Law Firm represents clients in many areas of California, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, as well as Oakland and Sacramento. Complete our online form or call us at 310-553-3600.

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