The legal framework safeguarding equal opportunities in the workplace is not confined to a singular repository, but rather comprises a myriad of relevant statutes dispersed across both federal and state jurisdictions. Within this intricate web of regulations, a common thread is discerned in the analysis, which closely parallels the principles outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) (42 USC § 2000e et seq.).
What Does the Law Say?
Serving as a cornerstone of anti-discrimination legislation, Title VII sets forth guidelines and protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics like race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In the state of California, a parallel statutory guardian of workplace equality is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA, Gov.C. § 12900 et seq.), mirroring Title VII. The FEHA extends analogous protections while introducing some nuanced variations. Title VII and the FEHA use similar language in an attempt to eliminate the same conduct.
Options for Plaintiffs
Plaintiffs claiming employment discrimination usually have the choice of suing under either Title VII or the FEHA and suing in either federal court or state court.
Despite the overarching resemblance between these statutes, there are some important differences. Regardless of its similarity to Title VII, the FEHA usually offers employees greater protection and relief; unlimited compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded for FEHA violations, whereas only limited damages are recoverable under Title VII.
FEHA suits also have procedural advantages. A plaintiff suing in California state court does not have to win a unanimous jury verdict as would be required in federal court. For these and other reasons, plaintiffs usually favor proceeding under the FEHA in state court, while defendants will often look for an opportunity to remove the case to federal court.
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The labor laws protect and empower employees. Always seek legal advice when you believe your rights are being ignored. Our testimonials and case results speak to our expertise in all aspects of employment law, and our complimentary case evaluations and contingency fee services ensure clients get the help they need.