DFEH Director Explains Restructuring and Hopes for New Regulations

The Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing briefed the Northern California Employment Roundtable today on the changes within the department resulting from the passage of SB1083. The bill restructures the way in which complaints at the administrative level will be handled in the future. In short, there will be no more administrative litigation. The department will continue to take administrative complaints, but those complaints that are deemed worthy to pursue and are not resolved by settlement will proceed to civil litigation in the courts. It remains to be seen whether this structural change will have any significant impact on employers

This bill also eliminates the Fair Employment and Housing Commission and replaced it with the new Fair Employment and Housing Council. The Council will be responsible for promulgating regulations under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The Director expressed the hope that the new Council will work to amend outdated regulations under the California Family Rights Act and adopt new regulations. The new regulations would interpret the new provisions in the Fair Employment and Housing Act that prohibit transgender and genetic characteristic discrimination and require an employer to accommodate employees’ religious dress.