The EEOC vs. DFEH. Do you know the difference?

Since the passage of AB2053, there has been a renewed interest in sexual harassment training and reporting.  One of the biggest questions I get when doing training is – why is there two choices for victims of sexual harassment when it comes to filing a complaint?  Many people just don’t know.  So, what’s the difference?


In California, sexual harassment victims can file complaints with both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). There are many reasons why a person would choose one over the other.  It basically boils down to which organization will benefit them the most.  Here’s the differences:

  • The EEOC and DFEH have different employee thresholds which companies must meet to be subject to the laws.
    • The EEOC requires 15 employees for harassment claims
    • DFEH requires 1 employee for harassment claims
  • The EEOC does not investigate claims of sexual harassment based in sexual orientation whereas the DFEH does.
  • FEHA does not enforce the equal pay act where the EEOC does.
  • FEHA allows up to 365 days to file a claim, where the EEOC only allows 180 days or 300 for state/local agencies.
    • EEOC requires Federal employees to file discrimination claims in 45 days
  • DFEH does not issue the “right to sue” letter until they complete their investigation whereas the EEOC does so immediately


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