How Should an Employer in California Respond to a CRD Complaint?
The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) is the state agency that is responsible for enforcing many civil rights laws, including employment regulations. What happens if your company receives notice of a CRD complaint? It is imperative that you respond proactively. Here, our California employer defense attorney highlights the steps that a business or an organization should take when responding to a CRD complaint.
Step #1: Review the Complaint and Understand the Allegations
As a starting point, an employer should carefully read the CRD complaint. You will want to be sure to understand the specifics of the allegations, without overreacting. Identify which laws the “plaintiff”, as they are called in these complaints, alleges were violated as well as the alleged incidents that led to their complaint. A comprehensive review of the allegations is fundamental in preparing an appropriate response to a CRD complaint. Please understand that a CRD complaint is not a lawsuit; it is an administrative complaint leading to an administrative process by the agency, not a court.
Step #2: Avoid Direct Confrontation/Retaliation Against Complainant (if Still Employed)
It is understandable when business owners and managers become upset about false allegations in a CRD complaint or become preoccupied about the threat against the company assets. However, employer representatives must remain calm and professional. You do not want to undermine your case or open yourself up to any additional liability risk by your reactions. If the plaintiff is still an employee, avoid any actions that could be perceived as retaliation or intimidation. Some examples of actions that can lead to problems include sudden and unjustifiable negative performance reviews, demotions, decreases in scheduled work time, ostracizing the employee or other adverse changes in their work environment.
Step #3: Consult With a Top-Tier California Employer Defense Attorney
You do not have to navigate the CRD process on your own. Before taking any further steps, consult with a skilled attorney who specializes in California employment law. Your attorney can provide legal guidance tailored to the specifics of your case and help you understand your rights and obligations.
Step #4: Conduct an Impartial, Comprehensive Investigation of the Underlying Matter
Initiate an internal investigation to gather facts about the allegations, but only with specific guidance from legal counsel. Ensure the investigation is thorough and unbiased, and either conducted by a third party or carried out strictly following legal counsel’s oversight. Interview witnesses, review relevant documents, and compile a factual account of the situation. A prompt, proactive, and independent investigation will not only aid in your response to the CRD but also prepare you for any legal proceedings that may follow.
Step #5: Respond to the CRD Complaint Within 30 Days of its Receipt
You typically have 30 days from receiving the complaint to respond. Your response should be comprehensive. In most cases, the response will need to address each of the allegations raised in the initial complaint. Ideally you will be able to support your case with evidence gathered during the investigation. It should be clear, well-organized, and drafted by a California employment lawyer.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with an Employment Law Attorney in California
At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment lawyer helps employers find solutions that work. If you have any specific questions or concerns about responding to a CRD complaint, we are here as a legal resource that you can trust. Call us now or contact us online to set up your confidential initial consultation. We provide employment law representation to employers in Coachella Valley, Riverside County, and throughout the State of California.