The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit retaliation and related conduct. If an employee or job applicant believes the employer is unlawfully retaliating by punishing them for asserting their right to be free from discrimination, he or she may decide to file a lawsuit.
They must first file a charge with a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. The worker will then receive a “notice-of-right-to-sue” upon completion of an investigation into their case. Once the worker receives this notice to sue letter, they must file a lawsuit within 90 days.
Many states have agencies that enforce laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These are referred to as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs). EEOC and some FEPAs have worksharing agreements in place to prevent a duplication of charges. Therefore, if you file a charge with either EEOC or a FEPA, the charge also will be automatically filed with the other agency.
In California, under the Fair Employment and Housing act (FEHA) Government Code section 12965, individuals file with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) a complaint and obtain a “notice-of-right-to-sue” before filing a lawsuit under FEHA. The requests will be immediately accepted by DFEH for people proceeding with their case to court. A lawsuit must be filed within a year of the act of discrimination.
In order to prove a claim of illegal retaliation, evidence must be available to demonstrate:
- That the individual was engaged in protected activity, such as participating in a complaint process or other activity meant to protect against discrimination;
- The employer took a materially adverse reaction, such as reduced wages or termination; and
- That the retaliation or protected activity caused the employer’s adverse reaction.
For more information about filing a lawsuit for illegal retaliation, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/lawsuit.cfm.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
- According to the rules for overtime pay in California, how long do I have to file an overtime pay claim?
- Am I entitled to overtime pay?
- Are there any restrictions on what an employer can ask me during a job interview?
- Can employers assign work based on employees’ ages?
- Can I get fired for reporting sexual harassment to my employer?
- Can my employer ask about my age?
- Can my employer legitimately deduct anything from my paycheck?
- Can temps file discrimination lawsuits?
- Does an employer have to give me rest breaks?
- How and when do you file an unlawful retaliation lawsuit?
- How can I prove age discrimination in my workplace?
- How do I recognize on-the-job discrimination?
- How is illegal retaliation defined?
- How is national origin discrimination defined?
- How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work?
- I am scared to report sexual harassment because I fear that I will be retaliated against by my employer. What should I do?
- I was sick and had to take a leave of absence. When I came back to work, I was fired. Is it wrong for me to be fired?
- If I was sexually assaulted many years ago, can I still bring a civil lawsuit for damages?
- If my employer violated the terms in the employee handbook by firing me, can I hold him responsible?
- Is my employer responsible if I am sexually harassed at a company-sponsored event outside of working hours?
- Is sexual battery charged as a misdemeanor or felony?
- My employer does not pay mileage reimbursement when I use my own car for company business. What is the California law on mileage reimbursement?
- My employer does not pay overtime pay. What is the California law on overtime pay? Am I supposed to receive overtime on my commission also?
- My employer yelled and cursed at me. Can I sue him or her for harassment?
- What are my rights regarding breaks and meal periods?
- What are the federal and state laws and regulations which provide legal protections for employees?
- What are the signs of age discrimination in the workplace?
- What are the time limits for filing a sexual harassment claim?
- What can I do if I see my co-worker being sexually harassed? Can I file a suit against it?
- What can I do if I was wrongfully terminated?
- What evidence is necessary in order to help prove national origin discrimination under Title VII?
- What is age discrimination? What are some examples of age discrimination?
- What is an “at will” work state?
- What is national origin discrimination under Title VII?
- What is overtime in California? Does an employer have to pay me overtime and how much should they pay me?
- What is the ADEA?
- What is the California law for vacation pay? My employer does not want to pay me for unused vacation pay when I quit or was terminated.
- What is the difference between sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment?
- What proof of discrimination at work do I need to include in a discrimination complaint?
- What qualifies as discrimination?
- What qualifies as sexual harassment at work?
- What should I do if I was sexually harassed?