California Employment Discrimination Law and Its Enforcement: The Fair Employment and Housing Act at 50 

Abstract: This paper provides an empirical evaluation of the operation of employment discrimination law in California, with emphasis on the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which was enacted 50 years ago last year. We rely on large administrative datasets from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the EEOC; decisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), trial court records, jury verdict reports, interviews, surveys, and other census and survey data. We utilize sequential logistic regression techniques to examine the factors that determine whether complainants obtain a lawyer, and the course of employment discrimination complaints through the DFEH administrative process when they do not. We compare outcomes in the DFEH system with those obtained through the EEOC. We analyze jury verdicts reported in 2007-2008, and compare them to verdicts collected by other researchers for 1998-1999. We analyze the issues and outcomes in all FEHC decisions since 1997. We are aided in interpreting this data through information obtained in semistructured interviews with DFEH staff and management, attorneys representing both employers and employees, insurance company officials, and others. We make numerous findings and, where these findings and common sense compel them, recommendations to improve how California responds to employment discrimination in the future.

Executive Summary