Respond to a complaint

If you are served with a complaint, it is only after DFEH has interviewed the person(s) who filed it and evaluated the information provided. DFEH screens all initial claims and rejects those that do not allege violations of the laws we enforce.

It is important to know that DFEH doesn’t take sides when a complaint is first filed. We investigate the facts and encourage parties to resolve the dispute in appropriate cases. DFEH considers taking legal action if evidence supports a finding of discrimination and the dispute is not resolved.

If you are served with a complaint, you must provide a response within 30 days unless granted an extension. You are free to hire or consult with a lawyer, but the process does not require a lawyer.

Here is what to expect after you have responded to the complaint:

  • You may be interviewed by DFEH and/or asked for records and documents.
  • DFEH offers free dispute resolution services to encourage parties to resolve the complaint in appropriate cases. A voluntary resolution can be negotiated at any time during the complaint process.
  • When parties can’t resolve a complaint, the DFEH continues an investigation to determine if a violation of California law occurred. If it didn’t, the case is closed.
  • If DFEH finds there were probable violations of the law, the case moves into DFEH’s Legal Division. At that time, the parties are required to go to mediation. At mediation, the parties have the opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute and close the case.

If mediation fails, DFEH may file a lawsuit in court.

Here is a link to the full regulations and what resources are available from DFEH.