Responding to a complaint FAQs

Am I allowed to contact the DFEH investigator to get more information about the complaint?

Yes. Do not hesitate to contact the assigned investigator to discuss the complaint. If the file contains additional non-confidential information about the allegations that are not shown on the official complaint, the investigator verbally may share this information with the respondent.

What does DFEH look for in an employer's position statement?

DFEH seeks a response to all the allegations in the complaint and documentary and witness information to support the respondent’s position statement. This information will assist the investigator in determining the merits of the complaint.

Examples:

  • A complaint alleges that the respondent refused to hire the complainant because of the complainant’s race. A useful response would explain why the respondent selected a different applicant and provide corroborating evidence. For example, the response could state that the employer selected a different applicant because the successful applicant was more qualified for the job and also provide the successful applicant’s resume and application form.
  • A complaint alleges that the respondent refused to reinstate the complainant after taking California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave. The response could state that the employer downsized and eliminated the complainant’s job. It could provide termination letters showing that the employer laid off other employees due to downsizing.
An employee filed a DFEH complaint only after being disciplined. Can I still fire the employee?

Firing an employee for filing a complaint with DFEH is illegal retaliation. If you disciplined an employee for violating a company policy or for poor performance, without any intention of firing the employee, you will be in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) if you discharge the employee for filing a complaint.

Can I file a complaint against my employee?

As an employer, you cannot file an employment discrimination complaint with DFEH against an employee. DFEH investigates only complaints filed by individuals who believe they have been the victim of unlawful discrimination in violation of the FEHA. However, if an employee refuses or threatens to refuse to cooperate with the FEHA, you can file a complaint with DFEH asking for assistance through mediation or other remedial action.

Does DFEH share investigative records with the parties?

DFEH does not share investigative records of open case files; however, once a case is closed, parties may request copies of the file. The information DFEH releases is governed by the Public Records Act. Any records DFEH receives initially from the person requesting the records DFEH will provide without redactions. Otherwise, personal information about private individuals (including the opposing party) will be redacted.

How long does DFEH retain investigative records?

DFEH retains records for three years after a case is closed.