Employees/Former Employees Now Have More Time To Pursue Claims With the Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- Written by Mark Kruthers
On October 10, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law increasing the time employees/former employees have to file claims with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (the “DFEH”) from 1 year to 3 years. (Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year saying the proposed change in the law would unnecessarily drag out the process of resolving issues in the workplace.) Prior to the enactment of AB 9, employees/former employees had 1 year from the date of an alleged unlawful act to file a claim with the DFEH for purported violations of the California Government Code. The employees/former employees then had an additional 1 year from the DFEH’s issuance of a “Right to Sue” letter to pursue a civil lawsuit. While AB 9 does not change the time period for bringing a court action after a “Right to Sue” letter has been received, it does give employees/former employees an additional 2 years to initiate the administrative complaint process. As a result, employers can now be forced to defend against civil claims for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that are not filed until 4 (or sometimes more) years after the alleged unlawful activity took place. While the change in the law will not revive claims that are already time barred, it will impact claims based on purported events which took place within the 12 month period prior to the effective date of the new law. The California Chamber of Commerce previously included AB 9 on its list of “job killer” bills that will likely deter business in California and increase litigation and related costs for employers.
- Written by Manuel Ignacio
SB 707 passed into law this week and employers will need to check the calendar carefully or risk being fined or unable to enforce their binding arbitration agreements. Employers are responsible for paying certain fees unique to arbitration. SB 707 provides that an employer who, at the start of an arbitration, fails to pay certain initiation fees within 30 days after the due date, or fails to pay required fees and cost during the arbitration will: 1) be in material breach of the arbitration agreement, 2) be in default of the arbitration, and 3) waive its right to compel arbitration. In response, an employee otherwise subject to arbitration will have the following options: 1) withdraw from arbitration and proceed with his or her claims in an appropriate court, or 2) continue with the arbitration and require the employer to pay for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for the arbitration. If the employee opts to proceed in court, rather than remain in arbitration, then the time spent in arbitration will not affect the statute of limitations on the employee’s underlying claims.