DFEH Policies Change to Make it Easier for Sex Harassment and Disability Discrimination Claimants & Others
New California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (“DFEH”) Procedural
1. The DFEH no longer requires a claimant to sign the complaint, but instead, permits the claimant’s attorney or any other person whom the claimant has designated to sign on his or her behalf.
2. The DFEH will also now accept an unsigned complaint when neither the claimant nor an authorized representative is able to sign it before the statute of limitations expires.
3. The “liberal construction of complaints” is now codified to extend to all claims that are or could have been asserted based on the facts alleged. So, where the claimant checks only the box for discrimination but the facts alleged could support a harassment claim as well, the DFEH will construe the complaint to include both claims. This may make it more difficult for employers to successfully argue a failure to exhaust administrative remedies and obtain an early dismissal of those claims not expressly alleged in the administrative complaint at the litigation stage.
4. In yet to be defined circumstances, the DFEH may now accept complaints filed after the one-year statute of limitations period. The new regulations provide that “where there is doubt about whether the statute of limitations has run [the complaint will be accepted and timeliness] investigated and analyzed” during the investigation. This may make it more difficult for employers to establish a statute of limitations bar to the administrative claim.