California Employment Law: Should you file EEOC or DFEH complaint?

I get calls from many workers in the San Francisco Bay Area who turn toCalifornia Department of Fair Employment and Housing for help, filing a complaint against their employer with one or both of those agencies for harassment, discrimination and/or wrongful termination. There is a tendency among workers to expect that these agencies will actually aggressively defend employees’ rights pursue resolution of their discrimination and harassment claims, when in fact this hardly ever happens.

While the objective of establishing those agencies was to prevent unlawful discrimination, In the vast majority of cases, EEOC and DFEH are of little use in representing employees in their discrimination, harassment and/or wrongful termination claims. These agencies commonly send a notice to the aggrieved employee that they were not able to determine whether discrimination or any other wrongful conduct took place due to “insufficient evidence.” Unless the employer admits fault, these agencies will not issue any clear findings. Having said that, there is still value in having those agencies involved and having them contact your employer, which will likely “motivate” the employer to take some action to remedy the situation. This is especially useful if you continue being employed by the same employer.

However, if you have been unlawfully terminated, waiting for EEOC of DFEH to take action is a waste of time as those agencies have no power to either reinstate you or force your former employer to pay damages for unlawful conduct. You are much better off requesting an immediate right to sue letter (which can be obtain online at the DFEH site after filling out a simple questionnaire) and filing a civil complaint against the employer and/or individual harasser.

If you would like to discuss your situation at workplace, feel free to contact San Francisco employment lawyer Arkady Itkin.