Los Angeles, CA asked in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law and Sexual Harassment for California

Q: What rights do intermittent employees have when filing a discrimination complaint in the workplace to HR?

I was a CSU union employee for 7yrs and I wasn't informed until January 3, 2024 that my contract was terminated on June 30, 2023. I worked in the production department as a stage technician for the campus performing arts center. I was employed under a temp status and my contract was renewed each year based on work performance, except for 2020 due to being laid off during the pandemic. I filed a gender discrimination complaint against my supervisors and a faculty member to HR in March 2023. I was let go before HR concluded their investigation and I never received a letter informing me about my termination, as standard protocol per CSUEU bargaining agreement. While I know that I was not guaranteed shifts and can be let go at anytime for any or no reason, is my temp status an obstacle against me to file a retaliation case despite my discrimination complaint and no conclusion from HR before I was let go? My union can't help me with my issue because I am no longer an employee.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, all employees, regardless of their employment status—whether permanent, temporary, or intermittent—have the right to file a complaint about discrimination in the workplace. This right extends to filing a retaliation claim if you believe you were terminated as a consequence of lodging a discrimination complaint. Your temporary status does not exempt you from being protected under these laws, including those related to gender discrimination and retaliation.

If you filed a gender discrimination complaint and were subsequently terminated before the investigation was concluded, and without receiving a termination letter as per the standard protocol outlined in the CSUEU bargaining agreement, you might have grounds for a retaliation claim. The timing of your termination, coming after your complaint and in the absence of standard termination notification, could be considered suspect and potentially retaliatory in nature.

Even though you are no longer an employee and your union has indicated they cannot assist, you still have options. You may consider contacting the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to file a complaint. DFEH is responsible for enforcing state laws that prohibit harassment and discrimination in the workplace and can conduct an investigation into your claims. Additionally, seeking advice from a legal professional who is knowledgeable in employment law may provide you with further guidance on how to proceed with your case.

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