Dispute Resolution

Mediation services

Mediation is a confidential process facilitated by a neutral third party to help parties in dispute resolve conflict.  DFEH voluntary mediation is a free, cost-effective opportunity for parties to quickly resolve a DFEH complaint on their own terms, without going through the investigative process.

The Department employs a staff of experienced neutrals, whose exclusive role at the DFEH is to mediate complaints. The Department also provides mandatory dispute resolution services for investigated cases the DFEH intends to prosecute.

For more information or to request to mediate a DFEH complaint, please contact the Dispute Resolution Division at Dispute Resolution Online Requests DRDOnlinerequests@dfeh.ca.gov

Community conflict services

The Department is empowered to act as a “peacemaker” when communities experience conflict or tension relating to discriminatory practices based on the characteristics in the box “Who is protected?”

The DFEH mediation services can be made available upon the request of a state or local public body, or upon the request of any person directly affected by a civil rights dispute, disagreement, or difficulty that threatens “peaceful relations” in a community.

Additional information is available from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service.

To request DFEH community conflict services, please contact the Dispute Resolution Division at Dispute Resolution Online Requests DRDOnlinerequests@dfeh.ca.gov.

Who is protected

Under California law,  DFEH may act as a “peacemaker” to resolve community conflicts or tensions related to discrimination based on these characteristics:

  • Race, color
  • Ancestry, national origin
  • Religion, creed
  • Age – 40+ years
  • Disability, mental and physical
  • Sex, sexual orientation
  • Gender identity, expression
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital, familial status

Employer assistance

Any employer whose employees refuse or threaten to refuse to cooperate with the Fair Employment and Housing Act may file a complaint with the Department asking for assistance through mediation. (Gov. Code, § 12960, subd. (c).)

If you are an employer seeking assistance, please submit your contact information and a brief description of the issue you would like to mediate to the Dispute Resolution Division at Dispute Resolution Online Requests DRDOnlinerequests@dfeh.ca.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

We provide the answers to frequently asked questions about how DFEH mediates complaints or conflicts.

What is a mediation?

Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third party helps complainants and respondents discuss their dispute and reach a mutually acceptable resolution. The mediator does not represent either party and does not impose a decision on the parties. Instead, the mediator helps the parties come to an agreement that ends their dispute.

Who conducts mediations at DFEH?

The DFEH employs a staff of experienced neutrals whose exclusive role at the DFEH is to mediate cases in the Dispute Resolution Division. DFEH’s mediators do not participate in investigations or prosecutions. They have no stake in the outcome of a case. They have no access to case files and do not disclose any information they learn during mediation to the Enforcement or Legal Divisions. Most DFEH mediators are attorneys with litigation experience; some are former administrative law judges or arbitrators. All have undergone extensive mediation training and some are trainers themselves.

Are there different types of mediations at DFEH?

Yes, there are both voluntary and mandatory mediations. Voluntary mediations occur when both parties agree to mediate before DFEH finishes its investigation. Voluntary mediation cannot take place unless both sides agree; DFEH cannot require a party to participate in voluntary mediation if the party does not wish to mediate.

Mandatory mediations occur after DFEH finishes its investigation and determines a complaint has merit. Prior to filing a civil action in court, the law requires DFEH to attempt to bring parties together to resolve their complaint with a Dispute Resolution Division mediator.

Why was my case sent to the Dispute Resolution Division for voluntary mediation?

Sometimes a case is referred to the Dispute Resolution Division because one of the parties requests mediation. Other times a case is referred because it is one of several the Enforcement Division randomly selects each week, to offer parties the opportunity to engage in free, confidential mediation before an investigation starts. Even though your case has been referred, voluntary mediation will not take place unless you and the other side agree to mediate.

Why should I agree to mediate?

Mediation provides parties a cost-effective opportunity to quickly resolve a complaint on their own terms, without going through the investigative process. Advantages of mediation include:

  • It is free.
  • There is no determination of guilt or innocence.
  • The process of mediation is confidential: Mediation discussions will not be revealed to anyone, including DFEH investigative or legal staff.
  • Mediation can improve communication. Both parties can openly discuss their views and share information about the dispute in a confidential, neutral setting.
Does DFEH represent the employee during mediation?

No. DFEH does not represent the complainant or the respondent at a voluntary mediation.

Click here to see the answers to more frequently asked questions about how DFEH mediates complaints or conflicts.

Attorney Mediators

JoAnne FrankfurtJo Anne Frankfurt,
Supervising Attorney Mediator

Thomas BennetThomas Bennett,
Attorney Mediator

Mark J. BrecklerMark J. Breckler,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Bruce W. CarterBruce W. Carter,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Elise ChuElise Chu,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Brandon R. CoenBrandon R. Coen,
Attorney Mediator

Sharon A. GodboltSharon A. Godbolt,
Attorney Mediator

Mary M. LeichliterMary M. Leichliter,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Claudia Hagadus LongvClaudia Hagadus Long,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Angela E. OhAngela E. Oh,
Senior Attorney Mediator

Christine PageChristine Page,
Attorney Mediator

Clara SlifkinClara Slifkin,
Attorney IV Mediator

Yu-Yee WuYu-Yee Wu,
Attorney Mediator