Kevin Kish, Director
Kevin Kish is a civil rights attorney whose career has been dedicated to public service and advancing justice for disadvantaged communities. He was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. as Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in February 2015 and confirmed by the California Senate in January 2016. He was reappointed to the position by Governor Gavin Newsom in February 2020. DFEH is the largest state civil rights agency in the nation and is the institutional centerpiece of California’s commitment to protecting its residents from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations and from hate violence and human trafficking.
Prior to his appointment, Kish served as director of the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, one of the nation’s premier public interest law firms. During his nine years at Bet Tzedek, Kish led the firm’s employment litigation, policy, and outreach initiatives. His cases focused on combating violations of minimum labor standards in low-wage industries and human trafficking for forced labor, and included individual and class-action lawsuits on behalf of workers in the garment, warehouse, carwash, trucking, restaurant, and janitorial industries, among others. He led trial and appellate teams in employment and trafficking suits. Among other important civil rights achievements, in 2009 Kish prevailed in the first civil case to reach a jury verdict under the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Kish has been recognized for a creative approach to advocacy that complements legal strategies with innovative collaborations involving non-profit organizations, law schools, public agencies, industry leaders, and organizing campaigns. He has frequently been named to top-lawyer lists including California Lawyer’s “Super Lawyers” and the Daily Journal’s “Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers.” In 2016, Kish was a recipient of the California Lawyer’s Clay “Attorney of the Year” Award.
Kish developed and taught an employment-law clinic at Loyola Law School. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale Law School, he began his legal career as a Skadden Fellow and as a law clerk for Judge Myron Thompson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.