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What is "right to sue?"

If you feel you have been discriminated against in your workplace or in employment and hiring practices, you may wish to pursue a lawsuit. But in California, that requires obtaining a "right to sue" letter. Just what is a "right to sue," and why is it required? Should you be able to simply pursue a lawsuit without obtaining this letter?

The California Department of Fair and Equal Housing outlines the "right to sue" process and how it works. Essentially, if you have an employment discrimination case you can either pursue it yourself or choose to have the DFEH pursue it - but even if you choose to pursue it yourself, you need to file a complaint with the DFEH. As part of filing your complaint, you can request a "right to sue" letter, which gives you free rein to pursue the case yourself in court with the help of an attorney.

The caveat to this, however, is that the DFEH will not follow up on your complaint - even if you end up not filing a lawsuit. It is assumed that with a right to sue letter you have taken it upon yourself to resolve the case to your satisfaction. You can file for a right to sue letter by submitting your complaint online or by mail. The statute of limitations on suits requires that you pursue within one year of receiving your letter.

This is an informational and educational reference post that should not be used as a substitute for qualified legal advice.

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