The mission of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing is to protect Californians from employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination, and hate violence. The DFEH is the largest state civil rights agency in the country. It was established by the Legislature in 1959 as the Division of Fair Employment Practices and was initially part of the Department of Industrial Relations. In 1980, the DFEH was established as an independent department charged with enforcing California's comprehensive employment, housing, public accommodations and public service non-discrimination laws, as well as the State's bias-related hate violence law.
The DFEH's statutory mandate is to protect the people of California from employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination and hate violence pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Unruh Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act, and Ralph Civil Rights Act. The Department has jurisdiction over both private and public entities operating within the State of California, including corporate entities, private sector contracts granted by the State of California, and all State departments and local governments.
The DFEH receives and investigates discrimination complaints in its five district offices throughout the California. The district offices handle employment, housing, public accommodations, and hate violence cases, along with a special investigations unit which focuses on systemic discrimination cases statewide. In addition, there are three legal offices which prosecute cases. The DFEH routinely provides technical assistance to employers, business establishments and housing providers regarding their responsibilities under the law. The Department is part of the Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency and is administered by a Director appointed by the Governor.