New DFEH E-Filing System Launched

New DFEH E-Filing System

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is rolling out a new DFEH e-filing system on Tuesday November 21, 2017. The new online case filing and case management system is called the Cal Civil Rights System (CCRS). It replaces the Houdini case filing system, which goes away as of 6 p.m. tomorrow. Users must create an account in the new system.

The DFEH promises the system is “designed to guide users through the filing process.” People can use If you would like to become familiar with the system before it launches, use this link to access the CCRS portal user guide.

CCRS allows filers to schedule an intake interview at the time of filing. Complainants, respondents, and representatives who create accounts in the system can:

  • View the status of cases they are involved in,
  • Send notes to DFEH staff, and
  • Upload documents directly into the case file.

The new DFEH e-filing system conforms to existing confidentiality protections. It does not permit parties to view documents or notes submitted by others.

Existing cases transfer automatically into the new system. Next week parties can contact their investigator to link an existing case to a newly created CCRS account.

DFEH will continue modifying CCRS “to respond to changes in the law, advances in accessibility technology, and the needs of the public.”

Discrimination, Retaliation or Harassment Claims

If you have difficulty filing a case in CCRS and need to meet a statutory deadline, send paper inquiry form and email it to contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov. DFEH still accept complaints and inquiries filed by mail, by email (contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov), in person, or by phone at 844-541-2877 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or California’s Relay Service at 711. The DFEH also offers free and on-demand interpretation of more than 240 languages for callers who need language assistance.

Having used Houdini several times in the past, hopefully the new DFEH e-filing system will improve some of the bugs. Houdini always seemed a bit antiquated, particularly when compared to the EEOC online filing system.

If you need help filing or responding to a discrimination, retaliation or harassment claim with the DFEH, contact a knowledgeable attorney.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Is My Electronic Signature Binding?

Is My Electronic Signature Binding?

Agreements may not be denied legal effect because they are in electronic form or have an electronic signature. California’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act states,

[a]n electronic record or electronic signature is attributable to a person if it was the act of the person. The act of the person may be shown in any manner, including a showing of the efficacy of any security procedure applied to determine the person to which the electronic record or electronic signature was attributable.

Many companies require new employees to sign key documents and policies electronically. Former employees challenge these signatures as inauthentic—particularly when trying to avoid arbitration agreements. Employees claim they either never signed the documents or cannot remember signing the document. Judges take these challenges seriously and hold employers to high standards to properly authenticate the employee signatures.

For “wet” signatures, it is usually fairly routine to authenticate a document. You show the employee the signature and confirm it is their signature. Or, the employee confirms a signature on one document with a sufficiently similar signature. Or, someone testifies they witnessed the signature.

How do you Authenticate an Electronic Signature?

Although the CUETA does not require heightened scrutiny of electronic signatures, many courts sometimes apply a seemingly heightened standard. In Ruiz v. Moss Brothers Auto Group, the trial court refused to enforce an electronically signed arbitration agreement based on authenticity questions. The employee claimed he did not sign the agreement, and would never have signed the agreement. The employer submitted a declaration claiming each employee logged into the HR system with a unique username and password to review and sign the agreement. The court said this was insufficient evidence to authenticate the signature.

The court noted the declaration did not explain that the electronic signature could only have been placed on the agreement by a person using the employee’s unique username and password. The declaration did not explain that the date and time printed next to the electronic signature indicated the date and time when the electronic signature was made. The employer did not explain that all employees were required to use their unique usernames and passwords when they logged into the HR system and signed electronic forms and agreements.

In a more recent decision, Espejo v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group, the court clarified what an employer must show to authenticate an electronic signature. Contrasting Ruiz, the court noted the employer offered “the critical factual connection that the declarations in Ruiz lacked.” The court pointed out the employer’s declaration detailed:

  • The electronic review and signature process for employee agreements,
  • The security precautions regarding transmission and use of an applicant’s unique user name and password, and
  • The steps an applicant would have to take to place his or her name on the signature line of the agreement.

The court determined the employer had a sufficient process in place to enable the systems consultant to properly authenticate the signature.

Electronic Signature Best Practices

If you are going to use electronic signatures, make sure your IT department can authenticate the signature. Can IT to determine when and from what IP address the document the employee signed the document?

You must be able to confirm no one but the employee could have signed the document, and that the employee in fact signed the document. Employees should have unique usernames and passwords to access the documents, and should create their own employee-created password before signing documents.

The company’s e-signature policies must comply with the CUETA and the federal E-SIGN Act.

If you are going to require electronic signatures, inform employees they need to review every document. Allow the employees to print the documents and provide sufficient time for review and execution.

Electronic signatures may be the wave of the future, but if done improperly, the employer may not get a second byte of the apple.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Ban the Box Goes Statewide

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in “ban the box” legislation. Ban the box refers to employers forcing applicants to divulge information about criminal convictions before the employer even considers the applicant. Governor Brown recently signed legislation prohibiting employers from asking about criminal convictions before the employer makes an employment offer.

Why is Ban the Box Important?

According to AB 1008, “Roughly seven million Californians, or nearly one in three adults, have an arrest or conviction record that can significantly undermine their efforts to obtain gainful employment.” AB 1008 emphasizes the importance of employment in reducing recidivism, and the impact a job can have on formerly incarcerated persons and their families. The bill also cites experts who claim “that people with conviction records have lower rates of turnover and higher rates of promotion on the job.”

The EEOC previously determined that a blanket rule against hiring persons with criminal convictions has an adverse impact on persons of color.

Other Ban the Box Legislation

In 2013, the State of California passed a Ban the Box law passed that only applied to certain public employers. That same year five states have adopted fair chance hiring laws covering private employers. In 2015, President Obama directed all federal agencies to Ban the Box and refrain from asking applicants about their convictions on the initial job application.

Since then, 29 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted a Ban the Box law. Over 300 companies have signed the White House Fair Chance hiring pledge. Nine states and 15 major cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, adopted fair chance hiring laws that cover both public and private sector employers. Over 20 percent of the United States population now lives in a state or locality that prohibits private employers from inquiring into an applicant’s record at the start of the hiring process.

California’s Ban the Box Law

Effective January 1, 2018, it is an unlawful employment practice for private employers with 5 or more employees “To include on any application for employment, before the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to the applicant, any question that seeks the disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history.”

Employers may not “inquire into or consider the conviction history of the applicant” until after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.

Employers cannot “consider, distribute, or disseminate information” about arrests that did not result in a conviction, referral or participation in a diversion program, or “convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law.”

What can an employer do? After making a conditional offer of employment, employers can conduct background checks. If the background check reveals a conviction, the employer can “make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position.” In making the assessment, the employer must consider all of the following:

  1. The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct.
  2. The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence.
  3. The nature of the job held or sought.

The employer can, but does not have to, “commit the results of this individualized assessment to writing.” It will be easy enough to create a criminal conviction consideration form for employers to use in their assessment.

What if the Employer Decides Not to Hire?

If the employer decides not to hire the applicant based on the criminal history, the employer must “notify the applicant of this preliminary decision in writing.” The notification must contain all of the following:

  1. Notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer.
  2. A copy of the conviction history report, if any.
  3. An explanation of the applicant’s right to respond to the notice of the employer’s preliminary decision before that decision becomes final and the deadline by which to respond.

The explanation must also advise the applicant that the applicant’s response can include evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction history report. The applicant then has 5 days to respond to the notice. If the applicant notifies the employer in writing that the applicant disputes the accuracy of the conviction history report, then applicant gets an additional 5 business days to respond to the notice.

The employer has to consider the information submitted by the applicant before making a final decision. If the employer ultimately denies employment because of the applicant’s conviction history (even if that is only part of the reason), the employer must notify the applicant in writing of all the following:

  1. The final denial or disqualification. The employer may, but is not required to, justify or explain the employer’s reasoning for making the final denial or disqualification.
  2. Any existing procedure the employer has for the applicant to challenge the decision or request reconsideration.
  3. The right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Exceptions to California’s Ban the Box Law

California’s Ban the Box law does not apply in any of the following positions:

  1. When a state or local agency is otherwise required by law to conduct a conviction history background check.
  2. Criminal justice agency positions under Penal Code Section 13101.
  3. Farm Labor Contractors under Labor Code Section 1685.
  4. Where an employer or agent thereof is required by any state, federal, or local law to conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes or to restrict employment based on criminal history.

The latter category could include:

  • Home Care Organizations hiring home care aides;
  • Childcare and Education services such as daycare workers, school staff
  • Healthcare such as  nurses, doctors
  • Financial Services such as financial advisors, credit experts
  • Government Workers such as police officers, mayors
  • Some Information and Technology such as systems managers, computer analysts, that have access to private information.

Employers will need to rethink and modify their hiring practices and employment applications. The new law impacts every employer with more than 5 employees.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.