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Filing an Employment Claim with the California DFEH

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What is the California DFEH?

The California Department of Fair Employment of Housing (DFEH) is a state-run administrative body that deals with various legal issues.  It handles claims related to employment such as discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.  It also processes complaints involving various housing disputes. 

The DFEH is not an advocate for plaintiffs; instead it acts as a neutral fact-finding investigative body.  Disputes are resolved through a process of dispute resolution, or in some cases, through a litigation-type proceeding.  As such, the assistance of a lawyer is generally necessary when filing with the DFEH.

How Do I File an Employment Claim With the DFEH?

If you suspect that you have an employment claim on your hands, you may wish to file a complaint with the DFEH.  You should begin by compiling any documents, evidence, witness statements, or forms that would support your claim.  You may then submit your complaint any relevant documents to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. 

The DFEH will then respond to your claim and may initiate an investigation in to the claim.  Bear in mind that a DFEH filing can often take quite some time to complete from start to finish.  The investigation may involve several steps and may require additional investigation by the agency.

You should not be concerned about being fired for filing a complaint with the DFEH.  It is against the law for employers to fire workers in retaliation for filing a complaint.  Filing with the DFEH is a similar process to filing with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What if a DFEH Investigation Doesn’t Solve the Legal Issue?

After reaching their decision, the DFEH may also prescribe a remedy for the legal issue.  For instance, they may require the employer to pay a damages award to the victim to reimburse them for any losses.  Or, the employer may be required to change their workplace policies.

If the remedies are not considered sufficient, it may be possible in some instances to appeal the case.  Or, it may be necessary to file a private lawsuit against the employer.  Bear in mind that in most cases, you are required to file with the DFEH first and “exhaust your remedies” before you can file a private civil lawsuit. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a California DFEH Filing?

Most employment law disputes can involve some very complicated and technical legal concepts.  It’s in your best interests to hire a lawyer if you need help filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  Your attorney will be able assist you throughout the filing process.  Also, your lawyer can be on hand to assist you during any formal court or administrative proceedings. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-09-2017 01:14 AM PST

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