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Bill aims to allow local governments to investigate discrimination complaints

Courtesy of the DFEH
A flowchart of the complaint process at California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

California workers with discrimination complaints against employers could soon turn to their local governments for relief. A new bill that would allow counties and cities - like San Luis Obispo or Monterey County - to investigate such claims passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee this week.  

Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is director of the Black Worker Center in Los Angeles. She says state and federal employment departments are taking an average of one to two years to process discrimination claims against private companies or governments.

“We need every jurisdiction to be able to do that. We need cities, we need counties, we need the state, we need the federal government to work together to ensure those rights are protected,” Smallwood-Cuevas said  

A recent study by her organization found black workers in California are three times as likely as white workers to be stuck in entry-level roles. For black workers that become managers, the study found they earn just 76 percent of white managers’ wages.

The bill has no official opponents and now heads to the Senate floor.

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