Labor Code §98.7 which became effective January 1986, establishes the authority of the Labor Commissioner to investigate, process, and resolve employee complaints of discrimination arising under various sections of the Labor Code. The procedures established pursuant to Labor Code §98.7 entail an investigation and or the convening of an investigative hearing after the filing of a complaint alleging discrimination in employment by an employee. In the event that the Labor Commissioner determines that a violation has occurred, the statute authorizes the Labor Commissioner to direct the violator to cease and desist from the violation and to take such action as is deemed necessary to remedy the violation including, where appropriate, rehiring or reinstatement of the aggrieved employee, reimbursement of lost wages and interest thereon, and or payment of reasonable attorney's fees associated with any investigative hearing by the Labor Commissioner.
In 1986, the Division was charged with enforcing nine statutes prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. In 1990 that number was increased to fifteen.
Currently, the Division is charged with enforcing twenty-eight statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination in the work place. While the majority of these statutes are contained in the Labor Code, the Division also enforces statutes contained in the Health and Welfare Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders.
Effective January 1, 2001 the following changes in the Discrimination statutes occurred:
In 1999, the number of Discrimination complaints filed with the Division numbered 795, and in 2000 the number of Discrimination complaints filed numbered 834.
The following data is submitted in accordance with Labor Code §98.75:
Exhibit "A" shows the number of complaints filed or opened under the various Labor Code Sections in 2001. The Division recorded a total of 1,003 cases filed in 2001. Approximately 60% of all cases opened during the year were complaints filed pursuant to Labor Code Section 98.6, which prohibits retaliation or discrimination in the workplace as a result of filing or intent to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner. These claims numbered 600. The second largest group of complaints of discrimination filed arose from health and safety issues in the workplace. These complaints, numbering 155, involved employees who claimed discrimination due to reporting safety and health violations on the job, which comprised 15% of total complaints filed.
Exhibit "B" shows the disposition of the various discrimination cases that were closed in 2001. Of the total 799 cases closed in 2001, 50 Decisions were in favor of the complainant, 98 cases resulted in voluntary settlements to the satisfaction of both parties, 172 cases were dismissed, 123 were withdrawn by the complainants before a determination was reached, and 356 cases were abandoned by the complainant.
In calendar year 2001, 17 referrals were made to the Division's Legal Section to enforce the Decision of the Labor Commissioner. Of the 17 referrals made to the DLSE Legal Section, court actions were filed in 7 cases and 3 cases were settled prior to court filing. It is anticipated that the remaining 7 cases will be filed in court by the end of January 2002.
Of the 7 court actions filed, there were 4 settlements or judgments entered after filing and the other 3 cases are proceeding with discovery and/or going to trial.
Beginning in 1993 the Division implemented a statewide centralized Discrimination Complaint Investigation (DCI) Unit with five Deputy Labor Commissioners assigned full-time to investigate all discrimination complaints referred to the Division. The Deputies in the DCI Unit, currently thirteen full-time investigators, receive ongoing training in investigative techniques and report writing in a effort to ensure they all have a thorough knowledge of the discrimination statutes. The Division will continue to review its procedures to ensure the continuing success of the program.
Arthur S. Lujan
March 5, 2002