Responding to a complaint FAQs

Am I allowed to contact the DFEH investigator to ascertain more information about the complaint?

Yes. Do not hesitate to contact the assigned investigator to discuss the complaint. If the file contains additional information about the allegations that are not shown on the official complaint, the investigator verbally may share this information with the respondent.

What does the DFEH look for in an employer's position statement?

The DFEH is seeking a response to all the allegations in the complaint and documentary and witness information to support the Respondent’s position statement. This information will assist the investigator in determining the merits of the complaint.

Examples:

  • A complainant alleges that the respondent refused to hire her because of her race. A useful response would explain why the respondent selected a different applicant and provide corroborating evidence. For example, the response could state that the employer selected a different applicant because she was more qualified for the job and provide the successful applicant’s resume and application form.
  • A complainant alleges that the respondent refused to reinstate him after California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave. The response could state that the employer downsized and eliminated the complainant’s job. It could provide termination letters showing that the employer laid off other employees due to downsizing.
The employee filed a DFEH complaint only after I disciplined him/her. Can I still fire him/her?

Terminating an employee for filing a complaint with the Department is illegal retaliation. If you disciplined the employee for a violation of your company policy or for performance problems with no intention to terminate the employee, and then terminate the employee because he or she files a complaint, you will be in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). On the other hand, if you intended to terminate this employee for a violation of a company policy or infraction and you applied your pre-termination procedures consistently with this employee as you have with other employees, there is nothing in the FEHA that would prevent you from firing the employee.

Can I file a complaint against my employee?

As an employer, you cannot file a complaint with the Department against an employee. The Department investigates only complaints where an individual believes he/she has been the victim of unlawful discrimination in violation of the FEHA.

Does DFEH share investigative records with the parties?

DFEH does not share investigative records of open case files; however, once a case is closed, parties may request copies of the file. The information released by DFEH is governed by the Public Records Act. Any records initially given to DFEH by the person requesting the records will be provided without redactions. Otherwise, personal information about private individuals (including the opposing party) will be redacted.

How long does the DFEH retain investigative records?

DFEH retains records for three years after a case is closed.