Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., signed Senate Bill (SB) 1038 into law on June 27, 2012. Effective January 1, 2013, SB 1038 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to: (1) eliminate the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC); (2) create the Fair Employment and Housing Council ("Council"); (3) expand the powers of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to manage complaints, mediations, and prosecutions; and (4) require that certain actions be brought in court by civil action.
As a result of SB 1038, the FEHC website has been shut down and the duties of the FEHC have been transferred to the newly created Council, which will consist of seven members appointed by the Governor. SB 1038 also expands the powers of the DFEH to provide mandatory dispute resolution at no cost to the parties. Additionally, SB 1038 mandates that claims be brought in civil court and cannot be prosecuted through administrative adjudication under FEHA.
These FEHA amendments may require employers to revise employment brochures, handbooks, policies, and administrative regulations to eliminate or revise references to the FEHC and its website. Those materials may also need to reflect the FEHA amendments regarding the internal dispute resolution process and exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing suit in civil court. Employers should consult with their legal counsel on such changes when appropriate.
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