Labor Code § 98.7, effective January 1, 1986, establishes the authority of the Labor Commissioner in the investigation, processing and resolution of employee discrimination complaints arising under various sections of the Labor Code. The procedures established pursuant to Labor Code § 98.7 entail an investigation and, if warranted, convening an investigative hearing. If the Labor Commissioner determines that a violation occurred, the Labor Code 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 reinstatement of the aggrieved employee, reimbursement of lost wages and/or payment of reasonable attorney's fees associated with any investigative hearing ordered by the Labor Commissioner.
In late 1991, the Labor Commissioner began accepting and investigating sexual orientation employment discrimination cases on the basis of judicial interpretations of Labor Code § 1101 and 1102. Assembly Bill 2601, effective January 1, 1993, created a new Labor Code § 1102.1 to add specific statutory protection for employees from discrimination in the workplace due to actual or perceived sexual orientation. During 1995, the Labor Commissioner received 161 sexual orientation discrimination complaints. This figure places sexual orientation discrimination investigations as the second-greatest component in the discrimination complaint investigation program. The number of sexual orientation discrimination complaints has remained relatively stable, with 156 complaints received in both 1993 and 1994.
Labor Code § 98.75 requires the Labor Commissioner to report annually to the Legislature with particular information with respect to discrimination complaints for the previous calendar year. 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 1995. The Labor Commissioner recorded a total of 689 cases filed in 1995. One-third of all cases opened during the year were complaints filed pursuant to Labor Code Section 98.6, which prohibits retaliation or discrimination as a result of filing or the intent to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner. These claims totaled 229. The second largest group of complaints, accounting for 23 percent of the total, alleged sexual orientation employment discrimination. The third most frequent type of complaint alleged discrimination for making an occupational safety and health complaint.
Exhibit "B"shows the disposition of the various discrimination cases that were processed in 1995. The Labor Commissioner issued determinations in 52 cases, finding for the complainant in 18 instances and for the respondent in 34 cases. Of the total 418 cases closed in 1995, 65 were withdrawn by the complainants before a determination was reached. There were 39 cases resulting in voluntary settlements to the satisfaction of both parties.
In 1993, the Labor Commissioner 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. A sixth deputy was added to the program in 1995 in order to expedite the handling of cases. Deputies in the DCI Unit receive ongoing training in investigative techniques and report writing in a effort to ensure they all have a thorough knowledge of the discrimination statutes. We will continue to review its procedures to ensure the continuing success of the program, since this administrative process for processing and investigating discrimination complaints serves as an effective alternative to costly and time-consuming civil litigation.
State Labor Commissioner