California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

Seyfarth Synopsis: The natural inclination is to ignore attempts to dredge up claims of harassment that happened long ago. But no harassment claim is too old to investigate. Having strong anti-harassment policies and investigation procedures, along with a good work culture, can help employers avoid getting caught in the cross-fire of the “me-too” harassment dialogue.

By: Kristina Launey and Courtney Bohl

On June 11, 2014, Northern District of California Judge Jon S. Tigar ruled that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) has neither standing nor statutory authority to enforce Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The decision made clear that while the DFEH has

This week’s post is the first in a four-part blog series entitled Dealing with California Agencies.  Here, we highlight recent developments at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”). 

DFEH 2.0: How to Deal with the Rebooted DFEH

By Kristina Launey and Courtney Bohl

The DFEH recently received an “update” to its authority to enforce the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).  As we previously reported, effective January 1, 2013, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission was eliminated, as well as its ability to adjudicate claims.  Instead, the DFEH is now authorized to file cases directly in court, seek damages, and to collect attorneys’ fees and costs.  The DFEH has made very clear it intends to use every “byte” of its  authority to prosecute suspected and “systemic” violators, and seek fees, costs, and damages.  

Employers beware.  The DFEH’s promise to flex its newly-found muscle brings an increased need to tread cautiously with the DFEH.  Below is a brief look into the “new and improved” DFEH as well as few tips to help employers deal with DFEH 2.0.

The Background:

The DFEH’s new authority came on the heels of two game changing decisions — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (which we blogged about here and here) and DFEH v. LSAC (which we blogged about here and here).  

Emboldened by the LSAC decision, the DFEH has expressed an intention to file class actions challenging systemic discrimination under the FEHA.  To help it carry out its mission, it upgraded its systems to include:
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