Code Section Group

Government Code - GOV

TITLE 2. GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA [8000 - 22980]

  ( Title 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )

DIVISION 3. EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT [11000 - 15986]

  ( Division 3 added by Stats. 1945, Ch. 111. )

PART 2.8. DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING [12900 - 12996]

  ( Part 2.8 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 992. )

CHAPTER 7. Enforcement and Hearing Procedures [12960 - 12989.3]

  ( Chapter 7 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 992. )

ARTICLE 2. Housing Discrimination [12980 - 12989.3]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 992. )

12980.
  

This article governs the procedure for the prevention and elimination of discrimination in housing made unlawful pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 12955) of Chapter 6.

(a) Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged violation of Section 12955, 12955.1, or 12955.7 may file with the department a verified complaint in writing that shall state the name and address of the person alleged to have committed the violation complained of, and that shall set forth the particulars of the alleged violation and contain any other information required by the department.

The filing of a complaint and pursuit of conciliation or remedy under this part shall not prejudice the complainant’s right to pursue effective judicial relief under other applicable laws, but if a civil action has been filed under Section 52 of the Civil Code, the department shall terminate proceedings upon notification of the entry of final judgment unless the judgment is a dismissal entered at the complainant’s request.

(b) The Attorney General or the director may, in a like manner, make, sign, and file complaints citing practices that appear to violate the purpose of this part or any specific provisions of this part relating to housing discrimination.

No complaint may be filed after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged violation occurred or terminated.

(c) The department may thereupon proceed upon the complaint in the same manner and with the same powers as provided in this part in the case of an unlawful practice, except that where the provisions of this article provide greater rights and remedies to an aggrieved person than the provisions of Article 1 (commencing with Section 12960), the provisions of this article shall prevail.

(d) Upon the filing of a complaint, the department shall serve notice upon the complainant of the time limits, rights of the parties, and choice of forums provided for under the law.

(e) The department shall commence proceedings with respect to a complaint within 30 days of filing of the complaint.

(f) An investigation of allegations contained in any complaint filed with the department shall be completed within 100 days after receipt of the complaint, unless it is impracticable to do so. If the investigation is not completed within 100 days, the complainant and respondent shall be notified, in writing, of the department’s reasons for not doing so.

(g) Upon the conclusion of each investigation, the department shall prepare a final investigative report containing all of the following:

(1) The names of any witnesses and the dates of any contacts with those witnesses.

(2) A summary of the dates of any correspondence or other contacts with the aggrieved persons or the respondent.

(3) A summary of witness statements.

(4) Answers to interrogatories.

(5) A summary description of other pertinent records.

A final investigative report may be amended if additional evidence is later discovered.

(h) If a civil action is not brought by the department within 100 days after the filing of a complaint, or if the department earlier determines that no civil action will be brought, the department shall promptly notify the person claiming to be aggrieved. This notice shall, in any event, be issued no more than 30 days after the date of the determination or 30 days after the date of the expiration of the 100-day period, whichever date first occurs. The notice shall indicate that the person claiming to be aggrieved may bring a civil action under this part against the person named in the verified complaint within the time period specified in Section 12989.1. The notice shall also indicate, unless the department has determined that no civil action will be brought, that the person claiming to be aggrieved has the option of continuing to seek redress for the alleged discrimination through the procedures of the department if the person does not desire to file a civil action. The superior courts of the State of California shall have jurisdiction of these actions, and the aggrieved person may file in these courts. The action may be brought in any county in the state in which the violation is alleged to have been committed, or in the county in which the records relevant to the alleged violation are maintained and administered, but if the defendant is not found within that county, the action may be brought within the county of the defendant’s residence or principal office. A copy of any complaint filed pursuant to this part shall be served on the principal offices of the department. The remedy for failure to send a copy of a complaint is an order to do so. In a civil action brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees.

(i) All agreements reached in settlement of any housing discrimination complaint filed pursuant to this section shall be made public, unless otherwise agreed by the complainant and respondent, and the department determines that the disclosure is not required to further the purposes of the act.

(j) All agreements reached in settlement of any housing discrimination complaint filed pursuant to this section shall be agreements between the respondent and complainant, and shall be subject to approval by the department.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 799, Sec. 16. (AB 1556) Effective January 1, 2018.)

12981.
  

(a) In the case of failure to eliminate a violation of Section 12955, 12955.1, or 12955.7 that has occurred, or is about to occur, through conference, conciliation, mediation, or persuasion, or in advance thereof if circumstances warrant, the director shall bring a civil action in the name of the department on behalf of the aggrieved person as a real party in interest, notwithstanding Section 12971, in the same manner and with the same powers as provided in Section 12965, except that where the provisions of this article provide greater rights and remedies to an aggrieved person than Section 12965, the provisions of this article shall prevail. Prior to filing a civil action, the department shall require all parties to participate in the department’s mandatory dispute resolution division free of charge to the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without litigation. A civil action alleging an unfair housing practice shall be issued within 100 days after the filing of a complaint unless it is impracticable to do so. The civil action shall be filed in any county in the state in which the unlawful practice is alleged to have been committed, in the county in which the records relevant to that practice are maintained and administered, or in the county in which the aggrieved person would have resided in the housing accommodation. If the defendant is not found within that county, the action may be filed in the county of the defendant’s residence or principal office. Any aggrieved person may intervene as a matter of right in the proceeding, and the appeal or other judicial review of that proceeding.

(b) If the department determines that an allegation concerns the legality of any zoning or other land use law or ordinance, the department or the Attorney General shall take appropriate action with respect to the complaint according to the procedures established in this part for other complaints of housing discrimination.

(c) Within one year of the effective date of every final order or decision issued pursuant to this part, the department shall conduct a compliance review to determine whether the order or decision has been fully obeyed and implemented.

(d) Whenever the department has reasonable cause to believe that a respondent has breached a conciliation agreement signed by the department, the department shall initiate a civil action to enforce the agreement.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 56. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12981.1.
  

The department shall not dismiss a complaint unless the complainant withdraws the complaint or the department determines after a thorough investigation that, based on the facts, no reasonable cause exists to believe that an unlawful housing practice, as prohibited by this part, has occurred or is about to occur.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 57. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12983.
  

The department at any time after a complaint is filed with it and it has been determined that probable cause exists for believing that the allegations of the complaint are true and constitute a violation of this part, may bring an action in the superior court to enjoin the owner of the property from taking further action with respect to the rental, lease, or sale of the property, as well as to require compliance with Section 12956, until the department has completed its investigation and made its determination; but a temporary restraining order obtained under this section shall not, in any event, be in effect for more than 20 days. In this action an order or judgment may be entered awarding the temporary restraining order or the preliminary or final injunction in accordance with Section 527 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In civil actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the department reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees, when it is the prevailing party for the purposes of the order granting temporary or preliminary relief.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 58. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12984.
  

Except as provided in Section 12980, all matters connected with any conference, conciliation, or persuasion efforts under this part are privileged and may not be received in evidence. Except as provided in Section 12980, the members of the department and its staff shall not disclose to any person what has transpired in the course of such endeavors to conciliate. Every member of the department or its staff who discloses information in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. Such disclosure by an employee subject to civil service shall be cause for disciplinary action under the State Civil Service Act.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 182, Sec. 16. Effective January 1, 1993.)

12985.
  

When a person is contacted by the department or a member of the department’s staff, following the filing of a complaint against that person, the person shall be informed whether the contact is for the purpose of investigation or conference, conciliation, persuasion, or mediation, and if it is for conference, conciliation, persuasion, or mediation, the person shall be informed that all matters relating thereto are privileged and confidential.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 59. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12986.
  

The department shall within 10 days cause a copy of the verified complaint that has been filed under this part to be served upon or mailed to the respondent alleged to have committed the violation complained of and shall advise the respondent in writing of the respondent’s procedural rights and obligations. The respondent may file an answer to the complaint.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 799, Sec. 17. (AB 1556) Effective January 1, 2018.)

12988.
  

The department may engage in affirmative actions with owners in furtherance of the purpose of this part as expressed in Section 12920.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 62. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12989.1.
  

An aggrieved person may commence a civil action in an appropriate court not later than two years after the occurrence or the termination of an alleged discriminatory housing practice, or the breach of a conciliation agreement entered into, whichever occurs last, to obtain appropriate relief with respect to the discriminatory housing practice or breach. The computation of the two-year period shall not include any time during which an administrative proceeding under this part was pending with respect to a complaint under this part based upon the discriminatory housing practice or breach.

An aggrieved person may commence a civil action whether or not a complaint has been filed under this part and without regard to the status of any complaint. Any aggrieved person who is aggrieved with respect to the issues to be determined in a civil action filed under this part, may intervene in that civil action. However, if the department has obtained a conciliation agreement with the consent of an aggrieved person, no action may be filed under this part by the aggrieved person with respect to the alleged discriminatory housing practice that forms the basis for the complaint, except for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the agreement.

An aggrieved person may not commence a civil action with respect to an alleged discriminatory housing practice that forms the basis of a civil action brought by the department.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 64. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12989.2.
  

In a civil action brought under Section 12981 or 12989.1, if the court finds that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur, the court may award the plaintiff actual and punitive damages and may grant other relief, including the issuance of a temporary or permanent injunction, or temporary restraining order, or other order, as it deems appropriate to prevent any defendant from engaging in or continuing to engage in an unlawful practice. In a civil action brought under this section, the court may, at its discretion, award the prevailing party, including the department, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees, against any party other than the state. If the court finds that the defendant has engaged in an unlawful practice under this part and is liable for actual or punitive damages any amount due to the defendant by a state agency may be offset to satisfy the court’s final order or decision.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 46, Sec. 65. (SB 1038) Effective June 27, 2012. Operative January 1, 2013, by Sec. 140 of Ch. 46.)

12989.3.
  

(a) Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of denying to others the full enjoyment of any of the rights granted by this article, or that any group of persons has been denied any of the rights granted by this article and that denial raises an issue of general public importance, the Attorney General shall commence a civil action in any court.

(b) Upon referral from the department, the Attorney General may commence a civil action in any appropriate court for appropriate relief with respect to a discriminatory housing practice referred to the Attorney General by the department under subdivision (b) of Section 12981.

(c) A civil action under this section may be commenced not later than the expiration of 18 months after the date of the occurrence or termination of the alleged discriminatory housing practice.

(d) The Attorney General shall commence a civil action in any appropriate court for appropriate relief with respect to breach of a conciliation agreement referred to the Attorney General by the department. A civil action shall be commenced under this paragraph not later than the expiration of 90 days after the referral of the alleged breach.

(e) The Attorney General, on behalf of the department or other party at whose request a subpoena is issued, under this article, shall enforce that subpoena in appropriate proceedings in the court for the judicial district in which the person to whom the subpoena was addressed resides, was served, or transacts business.

(f) In a civil action under this section, the court may award any of the following:

(1) Preventive relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order against the person responsible for a violation of this title as is necessary to assure the full enjoyment of the rights granted by this title.

(2) Other relief as the court deems appropriate, including monetary damages to persons aggrieved.

(3) A civil penalty in an amount not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), for a first violation, and in an amount not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), for any subsequent violation.

(g) In a civil action under this section, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees, against any party other than the state.

(h) Upon timely application, any person may intervene in a civil action commenced by the Attorney General under this section that involves an alleged discriminatory housing practice with respect to which that person is an aggrieved person or a conciliation agreement to which that person is a party. The court may grant appropriate relief to any intervening party as is authorized to be granted to a plaintiff in a civil action under Section 12989.2.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 159, Sec. 7. Effective August 2, 2003.)

GOVGovernment Code - GOV2