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Types of Remedies For Employee After Filing DFEH Complaint

By on July 29, 2019

Remedies in Actions by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment

Remedies can include a requirement that the employer conduct training for all employees, supervisors, and management on the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s requirements, the rights and remedies of those who allege violations, and the employer’s internal grievance procedures. In addition, a court may assess against a defendant a civil penalty of up to $25,000 to be awarded to a person denied any right. (Section 51.7 of the Civil Code.32 (h)). 

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The Fair Employment and Housing Act forbids unlawful employment discrimination and creates an administrative forum that is available to persons alleging that they have been victims of employment discrimination. The administrative forum is available without cost to the individual filing a complaint, and is intended to provide a vehicle for investigating complaints. The Fair Employment and Housing Act also encourages employers and individuals who believe they have been discriminated against to cooperate in the administrative process. 

In order to initiate a civil court action based on an alleged Fair Employment and Housing Act violation, a job applicant or employee must first invoke and exhaust the administrative remedies that are available under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Failure to exhaust the administrative remedies before filing a civil action may result in the dismissal of the court action. 

Exclusive Remedy Issues

The California Supreme Court first concluded in 1990 that the Fair Employment and Housing Act does not displace other causes of action and remedies that are available for sex discrimination and sexual harassment. It recognized that victims of discrimination are therefore free to seek relief for the resulting injuries under any state law, without limitation. The Supreme Court subsequently reached the same conclusion with respect to age discrimination. 

In 1998, the Supreme Court extended the principle to conclude that Labor Code Section 132a does not provide the exclusive remedy for causes of action alleging disability discrimination. For example, Section 132a prohibits discrimination against employees who file or make known their intention to file a workers’ compensation claim. The Supreme Court disapproved of prior cases that had found Section 132a to provide the exclusive remedy for a termination based on a work-related disability. When individuals with such disabilities are also covered by the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, they may pursue remedies under those statutes as well. Employees frequently tether emotional distress claims to employment discrimination claims. In such cases, the failure to establish discrimination may undermine a cause of action for emotional distress. Such claims may also be barred by the exclusivity rule of the workers’ compensation law.

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