Exhaustion of Remedies

An often overlooked defense to many claims or causes of action is the failure to exhaust remedies.  The concept of the defense is that a plaintiff or claimant must first present and exhaust any internal review of their potential claim, as well as the appropriate external review of that internal claim process, before independently pursuing their claim in court through a lawsuit.  Exhaustion of remedies is most common in cases in which an agencies specifically administers an underlying statute or regulation.  “Exhaustion of administrative remedies” requires a person to first go to the agency which administers the statute; this process usually involves filing a petition, then going to a hearing, and finally using the agency’s internal appeal process.  Once the agency’s own procedures are finished, then the person may need to file a writ of mandate in court to review the internal process.  This is called the “exhaustion of judicial remedies”.  Only then can the aggrieved person then file a complaint in court.
Below, please find links to a number of relevant agencies for various types of claims.  These links should provide you with directions to completing the complaint process for the individual agency that oversees those particular types of claims on both the state (California) and federal level.

Type of Claim State Agency Federal Agency
Discrimination Department of Fair Employment and Housing U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Wages, Overtime, Misclassification Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
Workplace Safety Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA) U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Tort Victim’s Compensation and Government Claims Board U.S. Marshals

Please note that you should always consult with an attorney to determine whether presentation of claims to an agency is required or desired, given your particular circumstances.