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Term Definition

Money that a defendant pays a plaintiff in a civil case if the plaintiff has won. Damages may be compensatory (for loss or injury) or punitive (to punish and deter future misconduct).

Default judgment

A judgment awarding a plaintiff the relief sought in the complaint because the defendant has failed to appear in court or otherwise respond to the complaint.


An individual (or business) against whom a lawsuit is filed.


Reduction in employment rank, position, title, pay, or benefits.

Department of Fair Employment and Housing

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the state agency charged with the protection of residents from employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination, and hate violence. It is the largest civil rights agency in the United States. It also provides representation to the victims of hate crimes. Originally a division within the Department of Industrial Relations, DFEH became a separate department in 1980. DFEH has a director who is appointed by the governor of California and maintains a total of fifteen offices throughout the state. Today, it is considered part of the California State and Consumer Services Agency.

Department of Industrial Relations

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) is a department of the State of California which administers and enforces laws governing wages, hours and breaks, overtime, retaliation, workplace safety and health, apprenticeship training programs, and medical care and other benefits for injured workers.


An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are often taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, or to be used later in trial.

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because of their disability.


To be considered disabled an employee must (a) have a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity, (b) have a record of such an impairment, or (c) be regarded as having such an impairment.


Procedures used to obtain disclosure of evidence before trial.


Discrimination is the prejudicial and/or distinguishing treatment of an individual based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or category, in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated. It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction, influencing the individual's actual behavior towards the group or the group leader, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.

Disparate Impact

Disparate Impact occurs when a facially neutral employment policy resulted in a disparate impact on a protected class of individuals.

Disparate Treatment

Disparate Treatment occurs when an employer intended to discriminate against an employee.

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

The mission of the California Labor Commissioner's Office is to ensure a just day's pay in every workplace in the State and to promote economic justice through robust enforcement of labor laws. By combating wage theft, protecting workers from retaliation, and educating the public, we put earned wages into workers' pockets and help level the playing field for law-abiding employers. This office is also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).

Division of Workers' Compensation

The Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) monitors the administration of workers' compensation claims, and provides administrative and judicial services to assist in resolving disputes that arise in connection with claims for workers' compensation benefits.