Changes to California Department of Fair Housing

Changes to California Department of Fair HousingEffective January 1, 2013, due to budget cuts, there are a number of changes to the California Department of Fair Housing (DFEH). The most significant change is the elimination of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC). Until now a complaining party had the choice of using an Administrative Law Judge to hear and adjudicate a complaint or they had the option to bring a civil of federal lawsuit. With the elimination of the (FEHC) the option will limited to resolution or a lawsuit. The cost of the defense of any such claim in borne by the defendant and, if the plaintiff is the prevailing party, they can receive their legal fees from the defendants, as well. The DFEH will still have a mandatory dispute resolution process, but the next step if decided by the DFEH would be to bring the fair housing lawsuit in a State or Federal Court. If the cases do not resolve through voluntary conciliation or through a resolution process and end up in State or Federal Court than the defense costs and exposure increase dramatically for the defendants. If the complaint is an employment issue the right to sue is retained even in the resolution process.