Can I sue my employer for religious discrimination in California?
Under California law, it is a civil right to have the opportunity to seek and hold employment without discrimination based on religious creed. Employees who are discriminated against because of their religion or religious practices can sue their employers for discrimination.
An employee generally must file a complaint with the DFEH or EEOC before they can file a lawsuit in civil court. This requires obtaining a “right to sue” notice before your case can be taken to court.
You can request an immediate right to sue notice, without having to go through a complete DFEH or EEOC investigation. However, if you receive a Right-to-Sue notice, your complaint will not be investigated by DFEH. Alternatively, you may also wait until the DFEH dismisses your case or finds no violation before taking your case to court.
According to the DFEH, proceeding directly to court without an investigation by the DFEH is only advisable if you have an attorney. Your attorney can obtain a right to sue notice and file your case in California Superior Court, in the county where the discrimination occurred, or another relevant county.
The complaint will be served upon your employer and anyone else named in the lawsuit as defendants. The defendants will respond to the complaint with a formal answer responding to the allegations, and the case may proceed through litigation. At any point before the end of a trial, the employer and employee can negotiate a settlement and settle the case out of court.
Can my boss fire me for reporting religious discrimination?
California workers cannot be retaliated against for opposing workplace discrimination.
The FEHA protects employees who are retaliated against for:
- Opposing workplace harassment
- Opposing religious discrimination against other employees
- Reporting religious discrimination or workplace harassment
- Assisting with DFEH investigations or government inquiries
- Filing a harassment or discrimination claim or lawsuit
An employer cannot take retaliatory action, including termination, against an employee for citing discrimination or harassment violations or filing a religious discrimination lawsuit. Firing an employee for filing a harassment or discrimination claim is considered “wrongful termination”.
If an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting FEHA violations or other employment law violations, the employee may be able to file a complaint with the DFEH or file a lawsuit against the employer for retaliation or wrongful termination.