FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CONTACT US

1. How do I contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing?

You can schedule an appointment online anytime day or night for an interview at the nearest DFEH office by clicking theOnline Appointment System at our main website, www.dfeh.ca.gov.
You can also call us during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00a.m.Ė4:00 p.m. at:
1-800-884-1684 (within California)
1-916-478-7200 (outside California) or TTY 1-800-700-2320
FAX (916) 478-7320

For Housing:
1-800-233-3212 (Within California)
1-510-622-2945 (Outside California) or 1-800-700-2320 (TTY)
FAX (510) 622-2956

Hate Violence and Public Accommodations:
1-800-884-1684


2. Where is the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing located?

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has District Offices located throughout California.

The Department has ten offices statewide that accept complaints of employment and public accommodations discrimination and complaints about acts of hate violence. They are located in Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles (2 offices), Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Ana.

There are also four offices that accept housing complaints. They are located in Elk Grove (2 offices), Los Angeles, and Oakland.


3. How does a person file a complaint of discrimination?

You can schedule your appointment using our Online Appointment System at www.dfeh.ca.gov/onlineappt anytime day or night for an interview at the nearest DFEH district office to file a complaint about job-related discrimination or harassment. You can also make an appointment by telephone during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., by calling:
1-800-884-1684 (within California)
1-916-478-7200 (outside California) or TTY 1-800-700-2320.

For Housing:
1-800-233-3212 (Within California)
1-510-622-2945 (Outside California) or 1-800-700-2320 (TTY)

Hate Violence and Public Accommodations:
1-800-884-1684

If the matter falls within the Department's jurisdiction, you will be given an appointment for an interview at a DFEH office.


4. What are your office hours?

The Departmentís office hours 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.


5. How do I know if I have been a victim of discrimination and/or harassment?

Discrimination on the job may occur when you are treated less favorably than other employees and you believe the reason behind this is your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or marital status. Sex can include pregnancy or gender identity. The age discrimination protections under the law are for persons 40 and older.

There are many forms of discrimination that can occur on the job. It can start during the period when youíre applying for jobs. You might be asked about your ethnicity, or if you are married, or are you planning on having a baby, do you have a disabilityólots of things like that. You might be asked for sexual favors in exchange for getting the job.

Once youíre on the job, you might be treated differently than your coworkers because of your race or gender, or one of those other bases mentioned. For instance, the employer may give all the primo shifts to those people who are of the same ethnicity as he is. Or maybe the supervisor favors those people who go to his church. Or maybe youíre harassed because the owner or supervisor keeps asking you to go out with him and you refuse, or makes crude or dirty remarks about your body, or tries to touch you inappropriately.

You might also be denied accommodation while on the job. For instance, you may need some job modification or schedule changes to accommodate your religion or disability.

If you complain about discrimination on the job, either to your employer or to DFEH or the federal governmentís Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or if you were involved in the investigation of a discrimination complaint, your employer cannot retaliate against you by punishing you by changing the terms or conditions of your job.

In all cases, contact us to see if your complaint is appropriate to our Department.

6. What else does the Department cover besides work-related issues?

In addition to employment, the Department also enforces California civil right laws pertaining to discrimination in housing, public accommodations and hate violence.

COMPLAINT PROCESS†

7. What can the Department do for me?

If a complaint is taken, it will be served on the employer who will be asked to answer the complaint and to provide DFEH with certain kinds of information to assist in the investigation of the case. The employer is also given the opportunity to voluntarily resolve the case through whatís called a "no-fault" resolution.

If DFEH believes there is a violation of the law, a formal conference will be held by DFEH representatives and the employer to try to resolve the case. If this fails, then the District Administrator of the office that investigated your case may recommend that an "accusation" of discrimination be issued and that your case be litigated.

DFEH has a staff of attorneys who prepare and will litigate your case either in a public hearing before the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), or possibly through the courts in some instances.

If it is found the employer violated the law, remedies may be awarded to you.

8. Does the Department help me find a job and/or an apartment?

A department representative will make efforts to resolve a complaint through its no-fault settlement process. This process provides an opportunity to resolve the complaint voluntarily without a determination as to its merits. The terms and conditions of a settlement depend on the nature of the complaint and the terms and conditions sought by either party. These terms and conditions may include remedies such as job reinstatement and/or rental of an apartment.

9. Does the Department charge a fee for its services?

There is no fee for our services.

10. Can I get legal advice?

The Department does not provide legal advice.

11. Do I need an attorney to file a discrimination complaint?

An attorney is not needed to file a discrimination complaint.

12. Once I file a discrimination complaint, will the Department represent me?

During the investigation, the Department acts as a neutral fact-finder, gathering evidence to determine whether the Complainant's allegations can be proven. The Department does not represent either the Complainant or the Respondent.

13. How long does the complaint process take?

The Department has up to one (1) year from the date a complaint is filed in which to complete an investigation and issue an accusation for public hearing if it is justified.

14. What happens if the Department finds in my favor?

If the complaint is substantiated and DFEH is unable to resolve the complaint through conciliation, the Director of DFEH may issue an accusation of discrimination. If the courts or the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) finds the employer violated the law, remedies may be awarded to you. These can include reinstatement, back pay, actual losses, emotional distress damages, training of the employer, policy changes and fines could be as much as $150,000 per respondent if the case is heard by FEHC; more if the case goes to court.

The LAW

15. Am I too late to file?

In California, an individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against in employment has one year from the last act of discrimination to bring a complaint with DFEH. Whatís cool about California is that if you are under 18, you have up to one year after your 18th birthday to file a complaintóregardless of when the discrimination occurred. To be on the safe side, you might want to contact DFEH as soon after the incident as possible just to check out whether you may be running out of time to file.

16. Can I be fired if I call in sick?

In California, in most instances there is nothing to prohibit an employer from firing an employee who doesnít show up to work. There may be some exceptions, though, like time off as an accommodation for a physical or mental disability or accommodation for your religion.

Thereís also something called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave which pertains to employers of 50 or more employees. It allows employees who have worked for a company for at least one year, have worked for more than 1,250 hours in the year prior to taking a leave, and work in a location where there are 50 or more employees, to take up to twelve weeks in a one-year period for the serious health condition of a parent, child, spouse, or domestic partner. CFRA leave can also be taken for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a foster child in the home.

You might want to make sure, however, that the employer is not discriminating against you by treating you differently than other co-workers who have missed work for similar reasons and have not been fired and you believe itís because of your race, religion, national origin, color, sex, disability, or something like that, because that would be illegal.

17. Can my employer fire me if I complain to you?

You have the right to complain about illegal discrimination, either with your employer or with DFEH, without being retaliated against.

18. Can I still file a complaint even if I donít have a legal right to work?

Regardless of your work status, you have a right to file a complaint with DFEH. DFEH does not inquire regarding your work status in determining whether or not to accept a complaint for investigation.

19. Can I make an anonymous complaint?

The Department does not notify your employer when you contact us for an appointment or when you come in for your appointment to be interviewed for acceptance of your complaint for investigation.

However, if a complaint is taken, you will be asked to sign a formal complaint which identifies you and your allegations. This formal complaint will be served on the employer who will be asked to answer the complaint and to provide DFEH with certain kinds of information to assist in the investigation of the case.