The following laws are applicable for complaints against a business or other private employer. Even if it doesn't seem like you're protected by federal law, you may be protected by your state law. 

These laws are general and will depend case by case so it's best to contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible to get legal advice about your situation before your statute of limitations expires. If you need help finding a lawyer, contact us here



employer WITH 15 or more employees

If your employer has 15 or more employees, it is illegal for them to discriminate against you on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. (This is thanks to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)


employer WITH LESS THAN 15 employees

There are no discrimination protections for employees at companies with less than 15 employees.



File a claim with the federal agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)



The deadline for an individual to file with the EEOC is 180 days from the date of alleged violation. 

The 180-day filing deadline may be extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law.


employer WITH 5 or more employees

In the state of California, if your employer has 5 or more employees, you are protected under their anti-discrimination law.                                                               


employer WITH LESS THAN 5 employees

California's state law protects employees at companies with 1 or more employees for harassment claims



File a claim with the state agency, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)



The deadline for an individual to file with the DFEH is 365 days from the date of alleged harm. 

Do I have to file a claim to both the federal and state agency? 

The EEOC and the DFEH have a "work-sharing agreement" which means that if you file with the EEOC, you're able to cross-file with the DFEH and vice versa. It's best to consult a lawyer to get more details on this. 

What can I do if my statute has passed? 

Unfortunately, if your statute of limitations has passed, you won't be able to file a lawsuit. However, it is still best to contact an employment lawyer to see if there are other options left on the table. 

What if my employer does not have the minimum employees stated in the anti-discrimination law?

You will not be able to file a complaint through the EEOC or state agency. However, you should still talk to a lawyer to verify if there are other local agencies that can help. 

What if I'm a federal employee? 

If you are a federal employee, the process for filing a complaint is slightly different.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against by a federal agency, you have a right to file a complaint with that agency. The first step is to contact an EEO Counselor at the agency within 45 days of the discriminatory action. You can find more information on the complaint process on the EEOC website.

Consult a lawyer before your statute of limitations is up

You should talk to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. Missing your deadline for filing a claim is fatal to exercising your rights and finding justice.

The materials available from BetterBrave are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney about your unique case before taking any further action. If you need help connecting with a lawyer, reach out to us here.