California Cutting State Programs? Not The Ones Protecting Employees

By: Sam G. Sherman

Everyone that reads the newspapers, watches the news, surfs the internet, heck, anyone not living under a rock, knows that California’s governor has been cutting programs like crazy. One would think that would put in jeopardy the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)–the state agency tasked with protecting employee rights. Not so fast.

At the end of June, Governor Brown signed SB 1038. The bill strengthened the DFEH by eliminating the Fair Employment and Housing Commission and transferring its duties to the DFEH. The bill also:

  • Creates within the DFEH the Fair Employment and Housing Council. This seven member panel will promolgate employment regulations (doubtful they’ll be employer friendly).
  • Allows the DFEH to file cases directly in court.
  • Authorizes courts to award the DFEH attorneys’ fees.

The DFEH’s press release claims that these changes will save taxpayer money, but that remains to be seen. The DFEH’s ability to file suits in court and recover attorneys’ fees certainly won’t save employers money. The bottom line: it is likely these changes will continue to make it challenging to own and operate a California business.

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