California employees have a right to be free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. Those laws, however, don’t enforce themselves. When California’s anti-discrimination laws are violated, many workers choose to file a complaint against their employer.
A complaint is the first statement or document filed with the court, or in this case with a government agency, by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another. Complaints are a type of pleading, which means that they serve as a formal statement of the factual and legal basis of the case.
Complaints must be drafted carefully, to make sure the worker has properly stated the factual and legal basis of the claim. This guide explains how to initiate and participate in a complaint for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”).
- 1 Determine Whether There Is a Valid Claim
- 2 Decide If a DFEH Complaint Is the Best Option
- 3 Prepare and File a Pre-Complaint Inquiry
- 4 Complete the Intake Interview
- 5 Decide Whether to Participate in Pre-Investigation Mediation
- 6 Cooperate with the DFEH’s Investigator
- 7 Review the Employer’s Response
- 8 Review the DFEH’s Decision
Determine Whether There Is a Valid Claim
Before a complaint is filed, employees should first determine whether the facts of their situation constitute a valid legal claim against their employer. This analysis requires employees to answer four main questions:
- Is the employer a covered entity under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (called “FEHA”)?
- Is the worker a member of a class of people protected under FEHA?
- Did the employer’s actions constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace?
- Has the deadline for filing a claim (called the “statute of limitations”) passed?
Each of these questions are examined in more detail below.
Is the Employer a Covered Entity under FEHA?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959 (called “FEHA”) prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace against certain groups of people.1 Its purpose is to provide remedies to employees and eliminate certain discriminatory employment practices.2
Under California law, an employer can be held responsible for violating FEHA if they fall into any of the following categories:
- The employer is a person or business that regularly employs five or more people,
- The employer is a person or business who acts as an agent of a covered employer, or
- The employer is the State of California or a local governmental entity (like a city or a county).3
Notably, FEHA covers public employers, private employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and apprenticeship programs. Employers can be one or more individuals, partnerships, corporations or companies.4
But FEHA does not cover religious associations, religious nonprofit corporations, the federal government, or certain federal contractors.5
Additionally, an employer can be held legally responsible for the discriminatory actions of its supervisors, managers, or agents. Likewise, an employer can be held liable when supervisors engage in harassment of protected employees.6 The improper actions, however, must have been committed within the scope of the employment of the violating supervisor, manager, or agent.7
Supervisors themselves are generally not personally liable under FEHA, unless they have engaged in harassment.8
Finally, even very small employers can be held liable in actions involving harassment (as opposed to discrimination). Meaning, an employee can file a claim against an employer for workplace harassment as long as the employer regularly employs one or more employees.9
Is the Employee a Member of a Protected Class?
California law prohibits employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against employees, but usually only if the employer was motivated by specific unlawful reasons.10 The employee must be a member of a protected class, and the employer’s adverse actions must have been motivated by the employee’s membership in that protected class.11
A protected class is a group of people who share a characteristic and are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. Under California law, a person is a member of a protected class if they have suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliation on the basis of their:
- Religious creed;
- Skin color;
- National origin;
- Physical disability;
- Mental disability;
- Medical condition;
- Genetic information;
- Marital status;
- Gender, gender identity, or gender expression;
- Age (if over the age of 40);
- Sexual orientation; or
- Military and veteran status.12
In addition to the requirement that the worker have one of the above-listed protected characteristics, the worker must usually be a current employee, a former employee, or a person who applied for a job to receive protection under FEHA.13
For these purposes, an employee is any individual who is under the direction and control of an employer.14 To qualify, the employee must have some sort of paid employment agreement with the employer. That can take the form of an implied agreement, an apprenticeship, or some sort of work appointment.15
Has the Employer Acted Unlawfully?
Employees should only file claims with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (called the “DFEH”) if they believe their employer has violated the law. To determine whether an employer has acted unlawfully, it is important to understand the different types of discrimination and harassment.
Discrimination and harassment can take many forms. Discrimination is usually defined as treating individuals differently, due to their protected characteristic or membership in a protected class, with respect to:
- Their compensation,
- The terms or privileged of their employment,
- Work conditions, and
- Job assignments.18
Discrimination and harassment are commonly followed by retaliation. This normally occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee for complaining of harassment or discrimination, or for assisting others in these complaints.
Retaliation may also exist whenever an employer takes actions against an employee for reporting illegal conduct by their employer. This is also known as whistleblowing and is often illegal.19
Disparate Impact Cases
Most of this section focuses on actions taken by an employer directly against an employee (sometimes called disparate treatment discrimination). In those kinds of cases, the employer is generally required to have the intent to discriminate against the employee.20
But California law actually prohibits another type of discrimination, called disparate impact discrimination. The rule for disparate impact discrimination is as follows:
The Basic Rule
An employer commits unlawful discrimination when they adopt a policy or practice that has a disproportionate effect on employees who are members of a protected class and the policy or practice is unrelated to the job’s requirements.21
Disparate impact claims arise when employers adopt policies that are “facially neutral” in that they don’t appear to discriminate on the basis of a protected characteristic. The policy might be unlawful, however, if it nevertheless has a disproportionately adverse impact on employees who are members of a protected class.
In these kinds of cases, the employer can be held liable even if the employer had no discriminatory intent.22 To win though, an employee must show that the practice or policy had no clear relationship to job requirements.23
Has the Deadline to File Passed?
In many cases, it is important to act fast because claims based on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation can expire. This expiration period is called a statute of limitations.
In general, a complaint must be filed within one year from the date that the alleged unlawful act occurred. The complaint must be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (called the “DFEH”).24
If the employee has gone through the administrative process and has been issued a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH, the employee will then have one year to file a lawsuit in civil court against the employer.25 This one-year clock starts ticking on the date the right-to-sue letter is issued.
If the employee is pursuing federal relief, they must file a complaint with either the DFEH or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act.26 If either agency issues a right-to-sue letter, the employee will have 90 days to file a lawsuit in court based on federal claims.27
There are sometimes exceptions to this statute of limitations. It is usually better, however, to bring claims earlier, if possible, so as to avoid relying on those exceptions in case they turn out to be inapplicable.
Decide If a DFEH Complaint Is the Best Option
Employees who want to recover money for violations of California’s anti-discrimination and harassment laws have several options. The most obvious is to raise the issue with their employer and resolve it informally. Often, however, employers don’t want to meet their legal obligations.
When employers refuse to fairly compensate their employees for legal violations, employees usually have three choices:
- File a lawsuit in court,
- File an administrative claim with a federal agency called the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”), or
- File a state administrative claim with California’s the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (the “DFEH”).
For many employees, a claim with the DFEH is the easiest or best option. All three are explored in more detail below.
Employees who have been the victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment by a covered employer have a right to file a lawsuit in court to seek the money for the harm they’ve suffered.28
Lawsuits in California usually take place in the superior court.29 If an employee chooses to pursue a lawsuit without the help of the DFEH, they will be responsible for hiring a lawyer or litigating the case in court on their own.
Claims with the DFEH, on the other hand, are designed to reduce an employee’s risks and costs. In smaller cases, it often doesn’t make sense to file a lawsuit in court without first fully pursuing the matter with the DFEH.
But, when the legal issues are numerous, complex, or involve substantial sums of money, hiring an attorney to file a lawsuit might be the best way to fully adjudicate the dispute.
Importantly, before a lawsuit can be filed in civil court, employees must first exhaust their administrative remedies. This means that workers are not able to file discrimination or harassment lawsuit in civil court until they have first filed their claim with an administrative agency, like the federal EEOC or the California DFEH.30
If the employee wishes to go straight to court, exhausting an employee’s remedies is easy to do. They can directly request that the DFEH immediately issue a right-to-sue letter.31 The risk in doing so, however, is that the DFEH will not investigate or pursue the employee’s complaint.32
The DFEH recommends that employees request an immediate right-to-sue letter only when they have been advised by their attorney to do so.33
Federal Discrimination Claims
On the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (often referred to as just “Title VII”) protects certain groups of employees from discrimination.34
Title VII claims are, in many ways, similar to those brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”),35 except that the protections Title VII provides are usually narrower.
For example, employees who pursue relief under FEHA can seek unlimited damages.36 Awards under Title VII, on the other hand, are subject to strict limitations on amount of damages an employee may seek.37
Despite those downsides, there are some cases where the employee may want to pursue a claim under Title VII. If they choose to do so, they can file their employment discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”).38
The EEOC provides a free procedure for employees to initiate claims against their employer. The EEOC will then investigate the employee’s claims and determine whether to pursue an action against the employer.39
But, when California law benefits an employee more than federal law, it can make sense for employees to pursue their claims with the agency tasked with enforcing state law—the DFEH.
State Discrimination Claims
As mentioned above, employees in California are protected against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and regulations written by state administrative agencies.40
Like federal law, these rules provide employees with a free procedure to initiate claims against their employer. The DFEH will then investigate the employee’s claims and determine whether to pursue an action in court against the employer.41
If the DFEH decides that it will not pursue an action against the employer, it will issue a right-to-sue notice to the employee.42 The employee will then have the right to file a civil lawsuit in court on their own.
Filing a claim with the DFEH can be particularly helpful to employees who cannot afford (or do not want) to hire a lawyer.43 It is also an easy way to preview the employer’s evidence and their response before going to court.
The downside of filing a claim with the DFEH, without requesting an immediate right-to-sue notice, is that there may be an delay in litigating the issue.
Which Option is Best?
Choosing how to proceed is often the first important decision in a case. Employees usually cannot pursue multiple forms of relief.
Employees may choose the administrative claim process with the DFEH for several reasons:
- It can be cheaper and less risky than a traditional lawsuit.
- The DFEH has the power to issue subpoenas and compel the employer to produce evidence or testimony.44
- The DFEH can force employers to answer written questions.45
- The DFEH can work with employers to eliminate unlawful employment practices.46
- The DFEH can pursue the employer in court.47
Ultimately, the best course of action will depend on the specific facts of the employee’s situation. It is often a good idea to speak with a qualified employment lawyer before deciding how to proceed.
Prepare and File a Pre-Complaint Inquiry
Gather Supporting Documents
A complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) must contain sufficient facts to support the eventual claims in the lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, it will allege either: harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. To survive legal scrutiny, there usually must be some documentary support for one of those claims.
It is usually a good idea to gather these documents before anything is filed with the DFEH, so the strength of the evidence can be evaluated. This will also help the worker tailor the language in their complaint to emphasize certain facts in the case.
Preparing these documents in advance will also help the worker later, when it is time to speak with the investigator assigned to their case. The DFEH’s investigator will want to see any documentation supporting the worker’s claim.
Complete the DFEH’s Form
If the worker wishes to file a complaint with DFEH, the first step is to fill out a document called a “pre-complaint inquiry” form. A pre-complaint inquiry initiates the complaint process with the DFEH, and triggers their investigation.
The pre-complaint inquiry form is available for free on the DFEH’s website. It looks like this:
On the DFEH’s website, there are different types of pre-complaint inquiries. They concern housing discrimination, hate violence, human trafficking, and more. The one relevant here is the employment pre-complaint inquiry, as it involves employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
There are three ways to submit the pre-complaint inquiry:
- It can be filed online using the government’s interactive service, called “Houdini“;48
- A completed copy of the PDF form can be e-mailed to email@example.com; or
- A completed copy of the PDF form can be sent via U.S. mail to:
Department of Fair Employment and Housing
2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100
Elk Grove, California 95758
Note that when filing a complaint, it is very important to carefully comply with DFEH’s requirements. For example, the DFEH requires that the worker’s name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address be specified in the complaint, as well as the employer’s name and information.49
The complaint must also include a description of the alleged act, and the protected basis upon which the alleged discrimination or harassment was based.50
Complete the Intake Interview
Filling out the pre-complaint inquiry form initiates an intake interview with a department representative to determine whether a formal complaint is in order.51 Within 60 days of completing the pre-complaint inquiry, the worker will receive a phone call from an investigator to go over the details of their situation.52
Cooperating with the investigator is very important, as they will determine whether the case has a future with the DFEH. The DFEH will end its investigation of the case, and not take any further action, if it determines that the the allegations would not constitute a violation of the law, the deadline for filing has expired, or that it does not have jurisdiction over the case.53
The DFEH investigator will also reject any case where the same complaint has been previously filed with the DFEH or the EEOC.54
To support the case, the worker will need to provide the investigator with facts and any records about the incident. If the worker has documentary evidence supporting their case, they will need to provide that as well.
The DFEH will evaluate the facts and evidence presented to them, and decide whether to accept the case for investigation.55 If the case is accepted, DFEH will prepare a complaint form for the worker to sign and send back to the DFEH for filing with the department.56
If the worker is not represented by an attorney, the DFEH will provide a copy of the signed complaint to the employer.57 If the worker is represented by an attorney, the DFEH might require their attorney to handle service of the complaint.58
Decide Whether to Participate in Pre-Investigation Mediation
After a pre-complaint inquiry form is filed, the parties will have the option of participating in dispute resolution services provided by the DFEH.59 These dispute resolution services usually take the form of a mediation.
Mediation is a negotiation overseen and facilitated by a third party (the mediator). It is an effort to determine whether the parties can amicably resolve their dispute without additional litigation.
The DFEH’s mediation services are free of charge to the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without litigation. They are also completely voluntary.60 As such, the DFEH will not refer a case to a mediator unless both parties agree to participate.
When the parties agree to participate in mediation, the DFEH will suspend other proceedings. This means that the time for the employer to file its response will be suspended, and the department’s investigation into the complaint will also be suspended.61
If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, the DFEH will close its case file and that will end the DFEH complaint process.62
If mediation is declined or is unsuccessful, the DFEH’s proceedings will resume.63
Cooperate with the DFEH’s Investigator
After the signed complaint is filed with the DFEH, the department is required to initiate prompt investigation of the case.64 The main goal of the investigation is usually to determine whether an unlawful practice has occurred.65
During its investigation, the DFEH has the power to:
- Issue and serve investigative subpoenas;
- Issue and serve written interrogatories; and
- Compel either party to produce production of books, records, or documents.66
If either party fails to comply with the investigation process, the DFEH can file a court petition to force compliance with the DFEH’s investigative discovery.67
Review the Employer’s Response
Employers are required to file a response with the DFEH within 30 days of the date the complaint is served on them.68 Employers are permitted to request extensions of time, but the DFEH has discretion to deny the request.69
Reviewing the employer’s response is important, as it provides the DFEH with the employer’s side of the story. It can affect the DFEH’s ultimate decision in the case, as well as the worker’s strategy in the case.
After reviewing the employer’s response, the worker may wish to participate in a dispute resolution program or submit additional evidence to the DFEH’s investigator. The employer’s response can also be used as evidence in court later on, if a lawsuit is brought.
Review the DFEH’s Decision
When parties can’t resolve a complaint, the DFEH continues its investigation.70 If, at the conclusion of that investigation, the DFEH finds that no violation of California law occurred, they will close the case. The worker will be notified in writing of the case closure and be issued a right-to-sue notice.71
Similarly, if the DFEH fails to take action within 150 days of the filing of a complaint, the DFEH will notify the employee that they can request a right-to-sue notice and pursue the case in civil court on their own.72 If the worker does not request a right-to-sue notice, one will automatically issue at the earlier of either: one year from the date the complaint is filed, or when the DFEH completes its investigation.73
If the DFEH agrees with the worker and finds that the case does have merit, the DFEH is required to immediately try to eliminate the unlawful employment practice if it is still ongoing.74 This is usually attempted in mediation or a similar alternative dispute resolution process called “conciliation.”75
If the case has still not resolved, the DFEH can either close the worker’s case file,76 or require the parties to attend mandatory dispute resolution and then file a civil action on the worker’s behalf.77
Importantly, the DFEH has discretion to reject a case even if the case has merit. There are several factors the DFEH will consider when deciding whether the pursue a case further:
- The strength of the evidence showing unlawful conduct;
- The likelihood of prevailing on the merits at hearing or trial;
- The availability resources at the DFEH to pursue the claim;
- Whether the alleged violation addresses an important legal issue in an area where the department seeks to establish case law;
- Whether filing the civil action and subsequent litigation thereof are likely to impact civil rights in a manner consistent with the department’s mission; and
- Whether the employer has offered the employee (or applicant) an fair remedy that the employee (or applicant) has refused.78
If the DFEH decides not to prosecute the case on the worker’s behalf, it is important for the worker to review the DFEH’s opinion and decide whether to file a lawsuit independently.
It is also important for the worker to understand that the DFEH can only investigate violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). This means that although the worker may have been treated unlawfully, a clear violation of the law may not have been evident to the DFEH.
Finally, the worker should understand that the DFEH’s rejection of their case does not mean that their case lacks merit. There are a variety of reasons why the DFEH might reject a case, even when they think the worker has a strong case.
Employees whose DFEH claim has been rejected will be issued a right-to-sue notice, and they will then have the right to file a civil lawsuit in court on their own.79 It can be a good idea to speak with an attorney about how to proceed (if at all).
If the DFEH determines that there is sufficient evidence to prove a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), it might file a civil lawsuit on the employee’s behalf.80 The case will be heard in one of California’s superior courts.81
The employee will then be required to cooperate as necessary in the litigation until the matter is resolved in court.
Gov. Code, § 12900, et seq.Footnote 1
Gov. Code, § 12920.Footnote 2
Gov. Code, § 12926, subd. (d).Footnote 3
Gov. Code, § 12926, subd. (d).Footnote 4
Gov. Code, § 12926, subd. (d).Footnote 5
Roby v. McKesson Corp. (2009) 47 Cal.4th 686, 707 [“When the harasser is a supervisor, the employer is strictly liable for the supervisor’s actions.”].Footnote 6
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11009, subd. (b).Footnote 7
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(3).Footnote 8
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(4)(A).Footnote 9
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (a).Footnote 10
Caldwell v. Paramount Unified School Dist. (1995) 41 Cal.App.4th 189, 195 [“In order to prevail under the disparate treatment theory, an employee must show that the employer harbored a discriminatory intent.”].Footnote 11
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (a).Footnote 12
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (a).Footnote 13
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11008, subd. (c).Footnote 14
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11008, subd. (c).Footnote 15
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11008, subd. (c)(1).Footnote 16
Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(1) [“It is an unlawful employment practice . . . [f]or an employer . . . to harass an employee, an applicant, an unpaid intern or volunteer, or a person providing services pursuant to a contract.”], emphasis added.Footnote 17
29 U.S.C. § 631(a); Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (a).Footnote 18
See Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (h); Labor Code, § 98.6, subd. (a) [“A person shall not discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because . . . of the exercise by the employee or applicant for employment on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any rights afforded him or her.”].Footnote 19
Caldwell v. Paramount Unified School Dist. (1995) 41 Cal.App.4th 189, 195 [“In order to prevail under the disparate treatment theory, an employee must show that the employer harbored a discriminatory intent.”].Footnote 20
Scotch v. Art Inst. of California (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 986, 1002.Footnote 21
Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States (1977) 431 U.S. 324, 335, fn. 15 [97 S.Ct. 1843, 1854] [“Claims of disparate treatment may be distinguished from claims that stress ‘disparate impact.’ The latter involve employment practices that are facially neutral in their treatment of different groups but that in fact fall more harshly on one group than another and cannot be justified by business necessity. [Citations.] Proof of discriminatory motive, we have held, is not required under a disparate-impact theory.”].Footnote 22
Knight v. Hayward Unified School Dist. (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 121, 129.Footnote 23
Gov. Code, § 12960; Romano v. Rockwell Internat., Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 479, 492 [“As for the applicable limitation period, the FEHA provides that no complaint for any violation of its provisions may be filed with the Department ‘after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred . . . .'”].)Footnote 24
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (d)(2).Footnote 25
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(e)(1), 12117.Footnote 26
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(f)(1), 12117.Footnote 27
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b).Footnote 28
Code of Civ. Proc., § 395.Footnote 29
See Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b); Downs v. Department of Water & Power (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1093, 1097 [“The EEOC and the DFEH each designated the other as its agent for receiving charges and agreed to forward to the other agency copies of all charges potentially covered by the other agency’s statute.”].Footnote 30
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10005, subd. (a) [“Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an employment practice made unlawful by the FEHA may forgo having the department investigate his or her complaint and instead obtain an immediate right-to-sue notice.”].Footnote 31
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10005, subd. (b) [“Once the department issues a right-to-sue notice for a particular complaint, the department shall not investigate that complaint.”].Footnote 32
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10005, subd. (b) [“Obtaining an immediate right-to-sue notice and waiving the department’s investigation is advisable only if a complainant has been instructed by his or her attorney to obtain a right-to-sue notice.”].Footnote 33
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.Footnote 34
Gov. Code, § 12900, et seq.Footnote 35
Commodore Home Systems, Inc. v. Superior Court (1982) 32 Cal.3d 211, 215 [“the FEHA does not limit the relief a court may grant in a statutory suit charging employment discrimination.”].Footnote 36
See 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3).Footnote 37
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5.Footnote 38
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5.Footnote 39
Gov. Code, § 12900, et seq.; Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, §§ 10000–10034.Footnote 40
Gov. Code, §§ 12930, 12965; Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, § 10026.Footnote 41
Gov. Code, § 12965 [“If a civil action is not brought by the department within 150 days after the filing of a complaint, or if the department earlier determines that no civil action will be brought, the department shall promptly notify, in writing, the person claiming to be aggrieved that the department shall issue, on his or her request, the right-to-sue notice.”].Footnote 42
Ellis v. U.S. Security Associates (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 1213, 1226.Footnote 43
Gov. Code, § 12963.1, 12963.3.Footnote 44
Gov. Code, § 12963.2.Footnote 45
Gov. Code, § 12963.7.Footnote 46
Gov. Code, §§ 12930, 12965; Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, § 10026.Footnote 47
- Footnote 48
Gov. Code, § 12960, subd. (b); Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, § 10002.Footnote 49
Gov. Code, § 12960, subd. (b); Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, § 10002.Footnote 50
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10007, subd. (a) [“To determine whether the department has jurisdiction over the conduct about which a person seeks to complain, or the respondent against whom the person seeks to file a complaint, the department shall screen pre-complaint inquiries requesting investigation by conducting an intake interview.”].Footnote 51
Gov. Code, § 12963 [“After the filing of any complaint alleging facts sufficient to constitute a violation of any of the provisions of this part, the department shall make prompt investigation in connection therewith.”]; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10007, subd. (e) [“Intake interviews shall be conducted by telephone or other electronic means unless the department determines that special circumstances, such as the need for a sign language interpreter, require an in-person intake interview.”].Footnote 52
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, §§ 10004, subd. (a), 10007, subd. (g).Footnote 53
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10007, subd. (i) [“The department shall not accept complaints where the same protected bases, discriminatory acts, and allegations are or have been included in a complaint the complainant previously filed with the department or the EEOC against the same respondent(s).”].Footnote 54
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10007.Footnote 55
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10009, subd. (c) [“Once drafted, a complaint may be signed by a complainant in person or sent to the complainant for signature via U.S. mail, private carrier mail, facsimile transmission, e-mail, or other electronic means.”].Footnote 56
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10021, subd. (a) [“Only verified complaints filed for investigation with the department by complainants not represented by counsel shall be served by the department.”].Footnote 57
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10021, subd. (a).Footnote 58
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10025, subd. (a) [“The department may offer the parties to a complaint filed for investigation the opportunity to mediate the complaint before investigation commences (‘pre-investigation mediation’). One or both parties to a complaint filed for investigation also may request pre-investigation mediation. Pre-investigation mediation conferences are not attended by any representative of the department’s enforcement or legal divisions.”].Footnote 59
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10025, subd. (g) [“Mediation is voluntary. Therefore, the department shall not assign a complaint to a mediator unless both the complainant and respondent (or their respective attorneys or advocacy organizations, if any) agree to mediate.”].Footnote 60
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10025, subds. (b), (f).Footnote 61
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10025, subd. (l) [“DFEH complaints resolved through mediation shall be closed by the department.”].Footnote 62
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10025, subds. (b), (f).Footnote 63
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10026, subd. (a) [“After any employment discrimination complaint alleging facts sufficient to constitute a violation of the FEHA is filed for investigation with the department, the department shall initiate prompt investigation thereof.”].Footnote 64
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10026, subd. (d) [“The department shall gather during the course of an investigation all relevant evidence necessary to determine whether an unlawful practice has occurred.”].Footnote 65
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10026, subd. (c).Footnote 66
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10026, subd. (c).Footnote 67
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10023, subd. (a) [“Unless granted an extension by the department, a written response to a complaint filed for investigation with the department shall be provided to the department within thirty (30) days of service of the complaint . . . .”].Footnote 68
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10023, subd. (a).Footnote 69
Gov. Code, § 12963.Footnote 70
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10032, subd. (a) [“Whenever a complaint filed for investigation with the department is withdrawn by the complainant or dismissed by the department, or an investigation is closed or terminated by the department for any reason, the department shall promptly notify the complainant and respondent of the case closure, and the reason for closure, in writing.”].Footnote 71
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b).Footnote 72
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b) [“If the person claiming to be aggrieved does not request a right-to-sue notice, the department shall issue the notice upon completion of its investigation, and not later than one year after the filing of the complaint.”].Footnote 73
Gov. Code, § 12963.7, subd. (a) [“If the department determines after investigation that the complaint is valid, the department shall immediately endeavor to eliminate the unlawful employment practice complained of by conference, conciliation, and persuasion.”].Footnote 74
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (a) [“Prior to filing a civil action, the department shall require all parties to participate in mandatory dispute resolution in the department’s internal dispute resolution division free of charge to the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without litigation.”]; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, §§ 10024–10025.Footnote 75
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10032, subd. (a) [“Whenever a complaint filed for investigation with the department is withdrawn by the complainant or dismissed by the department, or an investigation is closed or terminated by the department for any reason, the department shall promptly notify the complainant and respondent of the case closure, and the reason for closure, in writing.”].Footnote 76
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (a).Footnote 77
Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10031, subd. (c).Footnote 78
See Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 10032 [“For complaints alleging unlawful employment practices in violation of the FEHA for which a right-to-sue notice has not already been issued, a notice of case closure shall also constitute a right-to-sue notice.”].Footnote 79
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (a).Footnote 80
Gov. Code, § 12965, subd. (b).Footnote 81