Safeguarding Civil Rights
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the institutional centerpiece of California’s broad anti-discrimination and hate crimes policy. Born out of a decades-long struggle to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and business establishments, the DFEH has been at the forefront of protecting civil rights in California since its inception. Today, the DFEH is the largest state civil rights agency in the country.
The mission of the DFEH is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations (businesses) and from hate violence and human trafficking in accordance with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Unruh Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act, and Ralph Civil Rights Act. The employment antidiscrimination provisions of the FEHA apply to public and private employers, labor organizations and employment agencies. “Housing providers” includes public and private owners, real estate agents and brokers, banks, mortgage companies, and financial institutions.
The state’s various civil rights laws empower DFEH to:
- Engage in public outreach and provide training and technical assistance to stakeholders, such as employers and employees, business establishments and consumer groups, and housing providers and tenants regarding their rights and responsibilities under the law
- Investigate and bring complaints of individual and systemic discrimination
- Facilitate mediation and resolution of disputes involving civil rights
- Enforce the laws by prosecuting violations in civil court
Since 2013, the Department has housed the Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEH Council), a body that issues regulations to ensure that the FEHA and other laws enforced by the Department are interpreted and implemented in a way that is fair and that protects the public to the full extent of the law.