Did You Know the DFEH Has a Dispute Resolution Division?
By Annmarie Billotti
Annmarie Billotti is Chief of Dispute Resolution for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, where she established and manages the Department’s Dispute Resolution Division. Ms. Billotti was formerly also responsible for DFEH’s legislation, regulation, and public affairs units, and formerly served as Acting Director, Chief of Mediation, Acting Chief Counsel, and Volunteer Mediation Program Coordinator. Before assuming her responsibilities at DFEH headquarters in 2007, Ms. Billotti held the positions of Staff Counsel and later Senior Staff Counsel in Oakland. She joined DFEH in July 2002.
My how times flies! The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) created an internal mediation division almost ten years ago. The service was first offered in the Bay Area and is now available state-wide through a team of experienced in-house attorney-mediatorsâand experienced private mediators, who very generously volunteer their time. Former employment litigators from both sides of the bar as well as former superior court and administrative law judges comprise DFEH’s mediation team.
DFEH’s mediation services are free, and the process leading up to settlement is confidential.1 In appropriate cases, voluntary mediation is available early in the DFEH process on a first-come, first-serve basis to parties to complaints filed for investigation, who request or agree to mediate. DFEH does not mediate complaints filed to obtain an immediate right-to-sue. Post-investigation, but before DFEH files a civil suit, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires parties to try to resolve their dispute one last time,2 although voluntary DFEH mediation may become available again during civil litigation.