DFEH Game Show: “Civil Rights Challenge!”

September 27, 2012 HR Law Consultants Conference
Session 4: 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
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DFEH Director Phyllis Cheng will host and present this interactive and entertaining DFEH Game Show styled presentation on "Civil Rights Challenge!" that will test the audience on everything anyone ever wanted to know about the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and everyone's favorite statute, the California Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA). Topics to be covered will include little known facts and historical tidbits about the Department and the FEHA, how cases are investigated and prosecuted by the agency, spell binding statistics and hot trends on workplace discrimination claims, significant CA discrimination cases, and the very latest and greatest developments that are on the horizon.

Phyllis Cheng Phyllis Cheng was appointed and unanimously confirmed by the Senate as the Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in 2008. She heads the largest state civil rights agency in the nation, which receives, investigates, conciliates, mediates and prosecutes discrimination complaints against employers, housing providers and businesses, and enforces the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act and Ralph Civil Rights Act. Under her direction, the DFEH has transformed into a proactive and innovative agency that re-established a special unit to investigate systemic discrimination claims; achieved a multi-million dollar class action settlement on family leave; launched a new attorney-staffed mediation division for out-of-court settlements; sponsored legislation and promulgated inaugural procedural regulations; conducted outreach to hundreds of communities statewide; introduced resources to educate the public on civil rights compliance; and developed partnerships with law schools, universities and colleges to train future civil rights lawyers and investigators. In recognition of her dedication and contribution to public service, Ms. Cheng will be named "2012 Public Lawyer of the Year" by the State Bar of California at its annual conference in Monterey this fall.

Ms. Cheng was formerly of counsel at Littler Mendelson, where she represented management clients and as an associate at Hadsell & Stormer, she represented plaintiffs in employment litigation. She was a senior appellate attorney to the Honorable Laurie D. Zelon, Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. She also served as deputy attorney general in the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the CA Department of Justice. She was a two-term member of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission where she served as Vice Chair, and the Regulations Committee Chair, and ruled on nearly 80 administrative decisions. Her published appellate court decisions include: Colmenares v. Braemar Country Club, Inc. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1019 (broader definition of "physical disability" under California's FEHA is broader than Americans with Disabilities Act); and Fair Empl. & Hous. Com. v. Super. Court (Las Brisas Apartment, Ltd. Partnership) (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 629 (30-day statute of limitations under Government Code section 11523 applies to writ of administrative mandate actions challenging FEHC decisions). Ms. Cheng edited the California Labor & Employment Law Review and the Public Law Journal, is an editor of two chapters of Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group California Practice Guide, 2009-current editions) and a chapter contributor to an upcoming California Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Practice Guide (The Rutter Group, California Practice Guide), authors a regular column on cases pending before the CA Supreme Court, and a free case alert service on labor and employment law decisions read by thousands of practitioners. Ms. Cheng received her B.A. and M.Ed. from UCLA, Ph.D. from USC, where she was a James Irvine Fellow, and J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.