Okay for lawyers to make employees’ DFEH complaints
In Rickards v. United Postal Service, Inc., the Second Appellate District resolved the lingering question whether attorneys can ethically file administrative discrimination complaints on their clients’ behalf (they can). The issue arose because of a new online filing system used by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”), the state agency charged with handling administrative discrimination complaints. Employees must make administrative complaints before they can proceed with lawsuits. Before the online filing system, lawyers could only make DFEH complaints if they signed their own names to them, instead of signing as their clients. The online system muddied things because it does not require a signature for filing; filers simply have to click an icon warranting that they are filing under penalty of perjury. UPS argued that the warranty can only be made by claimants, rather than their attorneys, but the Court disagreed. The online filing system is primarily intended for claimants who have attorneys, therefore those people should not be penalized simply by following the rules.