Newsom signs Wieckowski's bill to improve DFEH's enforcement of civil rights laws

September 23, 2021

SACRAMENTO – State Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) bill to improve the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH) efficiency and civil rights enforcement abilities was signed into law today by Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill easily passed the Legislature earlier this month.

SB 807 updates the Fair Employment and Housing Act to specify the deadlines by which people must file complaints with DFEH. It creates greater parity with the department and its federal counterpart, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It also allows the DFEH to serve administrative complaints through electronic service to save costs. The new law lengthens the time that employers must keep relevant records to reflect the longer time people can file employment discrimination complaints. SB 807 encourages voluntary settlements by tolling the statute of limitations to file a civil action while a complaint is pending with the department’s Dispute Resolution Division.

“The DFEH receives thousands of complaints every year and these changes will improve its ability to respond to them,” said Sen. Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee. “No one should be subjected to harassment and discrimination, whether it is in housing, employment, businesses or state-funded programs. I applaud DFEH for working with the Legislature and I am pleased that Governor Newsom supports these important improvements.”

The Legislature made the DFEH a prosecutorial agency in 2012. It has substantially expanded its trainings, educational materials and outreach to businesses, housing providers, community groups and individuals. In 2019, the department received over 28,700 intakes and filed more than 22,500 complaints, included over 15,000 right-to-sue notices and took on thousands of new investigations.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.