Employee Discrimination Lawsuit Forum Choice
Review of cases indicates a strong public policy of giving employees the opportunity in a process that is economical, expedient, and straightforward to challenge alleged discriminatory employment practices in whichever forum they choose.
"The Legislature intended to create new rights within the Fair Employment and Housing Agency statutory scheme while leaving existing rights intact. . . ." (Jennings v. Marralle (1994) 8 Cal. 4th 121, 135 [32 Cal. Rptr. 2d 275, 876 P.2d 1074];
See also: City of Moorpark v. Superior Court (1998) 18 Cal. 4th 1143 [77 Cal. Rptr. 2d 445, 959 P.2d 752];
Rojo v. Kliger (1990) 52 Cal. 3d 65 [276 Cal. Rptr. 130, 801 P.2d 373];
Swartzendruber v. City of San Diego (1992) 3 Cal. App. 4th 896 [5 Cal. Rptr. 2d 64].)
Though "we do not decide cases based on trends" ( City of Moorpark v. Superior Court, supra, 18 Cal. 4th at p. 1156), we cannot ignore the principles that underscore these cases.
Clearly, it is the policy of both the Legislature and the courts to give employees the opportunity to seek redress of their discrimination claims in a process that is as simple and procedurally clear as possible.
This must include the option of filing claims in multiple forums or just one, whichever one that might be.
Indeed, the Department's argument that state employees must pursue their claims through the Board has previously been rejected in rather summary fashion.
"We fail to understand why the State continues to urge on appeal as it did in the trial court that Watson may not prevail because she has not exhausted her civil service administrative remedies.
She need not have done so as the State well knows because Watson had a choice between her civil service remedies and those provided by the Fair Employment and Housing Act. ( Gov. Code, 12940 et seq.; State Personnel Bd. v. Fair Employment Housing Com. (1985) 39 Cal. 3d 422, 429, 431. . . .) She chose to file her first charge with the DFEP and proceed accordingly.
Watson complied with the procedures required under the act, received her 'right to sue' letter and timely filed her suit.
Because the State Attorney General knows the law in this area, we can only regard the argument as frivolous." ( Watson v. Department of Rehabilitation (1989) 212 Cal. App. 3d 1271, 1284-1285 [261 Cal. Rptr. 204].)