Answers to more Mediation FAQs

Should I hire an attorney?

Parties may retain legal representation for mediation, but are not required to do so. Some complainants have an attorney, but most do not. Some respondents have an attorney, but many do not.

How many times can a case be sent to mediation for possible resolution?

If mediation initially is declined or is unsuccessful, the matter may be referred for voluntary mediation again after a response is submitted, if both parties request and agree to mediation. If DFEH determines after investigation that a case has merit, the parties are required to mediate before the Legal Division files a lawsuit.

What if I don’t like the settlement that is proposed?

DFEH mediators do not have the authority to require parties to agree to a settlement they do not like or want. If you do not like a settlement proposal, you may reject it and make a counter offer, if you like.

If a respondent agrees to a settlement, does that mean the respondent is guilty?

Not necessarily. Most DFEH settlements are no-fault settlements. DFEH settlement agreements generally state that they do not constitute an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the respondent.

What information do I need to bring to mediation?

Mediation participants should know the facts related to their complaint. You will have an opportunity to provide the mediator whatever information you feel is relevant to resolving the complaint. If you have relevant documents, you can bring them to mediation. You do not have to share documents with the opposing party at mediation.

Will the mediator have access to all the documents and information I already provided the investigator?

No. Because of the information firewall the DFEH maintains between the Enforcement and Dispute Resolution Divisions, DFEH mediators have no access to DFEH investigative files. All information DFEH mediators learn about a case comes from the mediation participants themselves.

Does the respondent have to prepare a response while a case is in mediation?

No. While a pre-investigation complaint is with the Dispute Resolution Division, all work on the matter by the Enforcement Division ceases and the requirement to submit a response to the complaint is temporarily suspended.

If my case does not settle in mediation, how much time will the respondent have to respond to DFEH?

If mediation is declined or is unsuccessful, a response must be provided to DFEH no later than twenty-one days after the date the Enforcement Division notifies the respondent in writing that a response is due.