New disability regulations and reorganizing the Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 10, 2013 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Amendments to the state’s Disability Discrimination regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative Law and took effect December 30, 2012.  A copy of these new regulations can be found here (http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs). The amendments were proposed last year by the former Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC). 

These new amendments make the following key changes:

  • Expands the definitions of "mental" and "physical" disability;
  • Clarifies what evidence might be used to show that a particular function is "essential" to a job; and
  • Describes the interactive process and obligations of the employer and the applicant or employee.

Be advised that as of January 1, 2013, the FEHC was eliminated by Governor Jerry Brown via the signing of last year’s budget trailer bill – SB 1038 (Chapter 46, Statutes of 2012). The FEHC was replaced with the Fair Employment and Housing Council, which will assume the regulatory and public hearing functions of the former Commission. The Council will be comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will now have the power to directly file complaints against employers in civil court for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Prior to filing a civil action, all parties will be required by DFEH to undergo mandatory dispute resolution in its Internal Dispute Resolution Division. If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, the DFEH will commence civil proceedings and if successful, courts are authorized to award DFEH reasonable attorney fees (at the Attorney General’s rate of $170/hr) and costs, including expert witness fees. Monies awarded will be deposited into a special fund to be appropriated by the State Legislature to offset department expenses.

For more information about the transition, click here (http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/Publications/Articles).

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