California's New Procedure for Investigating and Litigating Employment Discrimination Claims

Best Practices to Defend Discrimination Complaints and Avoid Liability

New procedure effective now

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide guidance to employment law attorneys for navigating California's newly expanded substantive and procedural laws for investigating and litigating employment discrimination claims. The panel will discuss best practices for avoiding liability and defending discrimination complaints.


Effective January 1, the bellweather California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) began a transformative reinvention of the way it investigates and litigates employment discrimination complaints.  These changes affect any employer with five or more employees working in California.

The new law eliminates the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, ends administrative adjudication of complaints, provides for the civil litigation of all DFEH prosecutions in court, and awards attorneys’ fees and costs to the DFEH when it prevails.

The law also establishes a new Fair Employment and Housing Council under the DFEH for rulemaking and expands the scope of non-discrimination requirements. Understanding how the new changes affect California employers is critical to avoid the expanded sources of liability and increased costs of DFEH complaints.

Listen as Phyllis Cheng, Director of the California DFEH, accompanied by an experienced employment law attorney, explains the new changes in the substantive and procedural laws, the expanded cooperation between the DFEH and the federal EEOC, and the impact of these recent developments on employers. The panelists will offer best practices for avoiding liability and defending discrimination complaints.



  1. Major differences between California and federal discrimination laws
    1. California Family Rights Act
    2. Pregnancy disability leave
    3. Disability
    4. Religious discrimination
    5. Gender-related discrimination
    6. Remedies available
  2. The new Fair Employment and Housing Council and its role
  3. The new DFEH prosecution procedures
    1. Investigatory procedures
    2. Civil litigation procedures
    3. New remedies available to the DFEH
    4. The Fair Employment and Housing Enforcement and Litigation Fund
    5. Impact on pending complaints and accusations
    6. Looking ahead: litigating against the DFEH in court
  4. Preventive practice pointers
    1. Anticipate regulatory changes
    2. Evaluate settlement options and consequences
    3. Review and evaluate pending cases


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What do employers need to do to comply with California’s newly expanded non-discrimination laws?
  • If a discrimination complaint is filed, how can employers and their counsel most effectively limit their liability?
  • What are the critical decision-making points in the new process and what are the consequences of various decisions?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq.
Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq.

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

She was appointed Director of the DFEH in January 2008. The DFEH is the largest state civil rights agency in the...  |  Read More

Teresa R. Tracy
Teresa R. Tracy

Gladstone Michel Weisberg Willner & Sloane

Ms. Tracy chairs the firm's Labor and Employment Group. She counsels and represents employers in all areas of labor...  |  Read More

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