What is the difference between filing an employment discrimination complaint with the EEOC and DFEH?
The EEOC is the federal civil rights agency that enforces federal civil rights law. The DFEH is the state civil rights agency that enforces California civil rights law.
Federal and state civil rights laws are very similar. This means that in most cases, you can file a discrimination complaint with either the EEOC or the DFEH. Once you file a complaint with one agency, that agency will investigate your complaint and will ALSO send a copy of your complaint to the other agency.
This is called “dual filing,” but it is NOT something that you need to worry or about. Once you file a complaint with either the EEOC or DFEH, the agencies will take care of filing it with the other agency on its own, and you will not need to do anything else. However, there are certain situations where it is better to file with one agency than the other.
THIS CHART EXPLAINS SOME SITUATIONS WHERE IT IS BE BETTER TO FILE WITH ONE AGENCY (USUALLY THE DFEH).
How many employees work for the employer?
EEOC only accepts complaints if the employer has 15 or more employees.
DFEH accepts complaints if the employer has 5 or more employees.
If the employer has 15 or more employees, you can file with either EEOC or DFEH.
If employer has fewer than 15 (but at least 5) employees, you should file with the DFEH.
How long ago did the discrimination occur?
You have 300 days (approximately 10 months) to file a complaint with EEOC.
You have 1 year to file a complaint with DFEH.
If it has been less than 300 days since the discrimination occurred, you can file with either EEOC or DFEH.
If it has been more than 300 days (but less than 1 year) since the discrimination occurred, you should file with the DFEH.
What type of discrimination occurred?
In most cases, EEOC and DFEH cover the same types of discrimination.
However, in a few cases, DFEH covers more types of discrimination—such as sexual orientation or gender identity, marital status, medical condition, military/veteran status, victims of domestic violence, political affiliation, etc.
If the type of discrimination you suffered is covered by both agencies, you can file with either.
However, if you were discriminated against based on a characteristic only covered by DFEH, then you should file with DFEH.
What kinds of remedies can I get?
In general, the remedies are similar between the EEOC and DFEH.
In general, you can get the same types of remedies whether you file with EEOC or DFEH.
In some cases, the amount of damages you can get, or what you have to prove, may be slightly different. However, this is very complicated, so you should talk to a lawyer or a representative from the EEOC or DFEH if you are concerned about these differences.
EEOC, Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) and Dual Filing, http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/fepa.cfm; see also DFEH, Employment Complaint Process, http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Complaints_eCompProc.htm. ↑
Telephone call with EEOC, reference #150204-000301 (Feb. 3, 2015). ↑
42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). ↑
Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926(d). ↑
42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(e). ↑
Cal. Gov’t Code § 12960. ↑
Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(a). ↑
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5; Cal. Gov’t Code § 12965(c). ↑