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Discrimination is humiliating on many levels. The reason does not matter, whether it is race, age, sex, sexual orientation or another aspect. You may be angry. You may feel alone and powerless. 

However, justice is possible. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing can help you. Someone who discriminates against you in a place of work deserves learning their behavior can come with major consequences. Plain and simple: They broke the law. 

What happens when you file a complaint 

Contact DFEH to file an intake form if you think you have been the victim of discrimination. The deadline is one year after the alleged incident. 

Provide DFEH with the facts of your case and supporting documents. If the department decides to begin an investigation, you will sign a formal complaint. The subject of the complaint responds, and DFEH reviews the response with you. After that you may have several options: 

  • Pursuing your case through dispute resolution with DFEH. The service is free and voluntary. 
  • When dispute resolution fails, DFEH determines if there is a violation of state law. If they find a violation, your case goes to mandatory mediation. 
  • DFEH can file a lawsuit if mediation does not lead to a solution. 

What happens when you win 

If you are successful during your civil rights complaint, you can benefit in many ways. Compensation can be financial. There can also be changes in the way your offender conducts business. Among them are: 

  • Recovering your out-of-pocket expenses 
  • Obtaining an injunction that prohibits the unlawful practice 
  • Winning access to employment opportunities 
  • Prompting policy changes 
  • Instituting training programs. 
  • Establishing reasonable accommodation(s) 
  • Securing damages for emotional distress 
  • Awarding of civil penalties or punitive damages 

You do not have to accept discrimination as part of your life. It should never happen. At every step, it is important to remember that you are not the problem. Your offenders bear all responsibility. They should pay a penalty for their behavior. California law gives you rights and backs them up with protection. 

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