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Frequently Asked Questions

Government FAQs Answered

  1. I need to contact a state agency. Is there a directory available? Please visit the State of California website, http://www.ca.gov/, and click on the State Agencies link. You may also contact State Directory Services by telephone at 1-(800)-807-6755 or via e-mail at stateinfo@state.ca.gov
  2. I need to file a complaint against a state agency. Who can help me? The Attorney General's Office is unable to assist you, because we are required by law to provide legal representation to state agencies in disputes rising out of their actions. This duty precludes the Attorney General from representing individual citizens in their disagreements with state agencies or providing advice to any individual regarding the disputed activity. While the Attorney General represents state departments in legal matters, she does not seek to impose her own policy judgments or control the administration of the business of her client agencies. For assistance in resolving a problem with a state agency, we suggest that you contact the director of the agency, your representatives in the Legislature, the Governor's Office, and a private attorney. If you wish to report alleged improper governmental activity by a state employee or agency, please contact the Bureau of State Audits. This agency may be contacted as follows:
    • Investigations Division
    • California State Auditor's Office
    • P.O. Box 1019
    • Sacramento, CA 95814
    • Telephone: (800) 952-5665
    • Fax: (916) 322-2603
    • Internet: http://www.auditor.ca.gov/
    If you wish to file a claim for monetary damages you believe were caused by a state agency, please contact the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. This agency may be contacted as follows:
  3. How do I obtain a copy of a law? California law is available on the Internet at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html and United States law is available on the Internet at http://uscode.house.gov/search/criteria.shtml. You may also wish to visit your county law library. You can locate your nearest California law library at http://www.publiclawlibrary.org/find.html If you are unable to find a law on your own, then we suggest that you consult with a private attorney. Our office cannot provide legal advice, analysis or research to parties other than state officers and agencies.
  4. I think a law should be enacted, amended, or revoked. Who should I contact? The Attorney General's role in legislative matters is limited to making recommendations to the California Legislature regarding needed changes in law and to enforcing the laws the Legislature enacts. You may wish to share your concerns with your representatives in the California Legislature. You may contact them as follows: If you are interested in researching or tracking legislative proposals, we suggest that you contact your representatives in the Legislature and/or visit the Legislative Counsel's website at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html
  5. I need to file a complaint against a federal government agency. Who can help me? Our office does not handle constituent complaints against federal government agencies. We suggest that you send a written request for assistance to your representatives in the U.S. Senate. Your request for assistance should include the following information:
    1. Name
    2. Mailing address and phone number
    3. Federal agency involved
    4. Specific request for assistance
    5. Signature of person in need of assistance (required by Federal law under the Privacy Act)
    Send your request for assistance to: and/or
  6. I need to file a complaint against a local government agency. Who can help me? It is our general policy that local governments will be primarily responsible for citizen complaints against their employees or agencies, and that appropriate local resources will be utilized for the resolution of such complaints. For complaints against city employees or agencies, address your complaint to the head of the city agency, the city attorney's office, the mayor's office, and your representative on the city council. For complaints against county employees or agencies, address your complaint to the head of the county agency, the county counsel's office and your representative on the county Board of Supervisors. If you believe you have information indicating criminal conduct on the part of a public employee, you should immediately contact the appropriate police or sheriff's department in the city or county where the incident occurred. If you feel your complaint about improper governmental activities has not been addressed satisfactorily by the local government agency, consider submitting your complaint to the county grand jury. Contact information is available from the California Grand Jurors' Association. If after investigation the grand jury concurs with your allegations, it will request the intervention of the district attorney. The state Attorney General would not ordinarily become involved in such a case unless the local district attorney had a conflict of interest that would prevent the district attorney from making any criminal charging decision in the case. If after taking these steps you continue to doubt the legality of an action taken by your local officials, consult a private attorney who can represent your interests in a dispute.
  7. A local government agency has failed to comply with my Public Records Act request. Who should I notify? The purpose of the Public Records Act is to provide access to government records so that members of the public can monitor the performance of government agencies. In recognition of individual rights of privacy and the need of government agencies to maintain the confidentiality of certain records, the Act provides several exemptions that permit government agencies to withhold specified information involving, for example, personnel, investigations, and litigation. When the Legislature enacted the Public Records Act in 1968, it provided several judicial remedies for persons who believed that they had been wrongfully denied records to which they were entitled. These remedies include the right to seek injunctive or declaratory relief or a writ of mandate in the Superior Court. (See Government Code sections 6258-6259.) Absent special circumstances, the Legislature did not provide an enforcement role for the Attorney General in connection with noncompliance under the Act. However, you may wish to consult with a private attorney to evaluate your options under the judicial remedies discussed above. For additional information, please see our Summary of the California Public Records Act
  8. A local government agency is violating the Brown Act. Who should I notify? Your local district attorney has jurisdiction over alleged violations of the Brown Act when the members of a body meet and take action with the intent to deprive the public of information to which the members know the public is entitled. (Government Code section 54959.) In addition, private citizens or the district attorney may bring a civil suit to enforce provisions of the Brown Act or to repeal actions taken in violation of the Act. (Government Code sections 54960 and 54960.1.) The court may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees when it determines that violations of the Brown Act have occurred. (Government Code section 54960.5.) For additional information, please see our guide The Brown Act, Open Meetings for Local Legislative Bodies

Criminal Justice FAQs Answered

  1. I am the victim of a crime. I want the crime to be investigated and for the perpetrator of the crime be prosecuted. Who can help me? If you have information about a crime, please file a report with the police or sheriff's department in the area where the crime occurred. Local law enforcement authorities are responsible for investigating violations of law within their jurisdictions. After investigating the crime, the local law enforcement authorities may forward the case to the county district attorney's office for prosecution, if appropriate. The decision whether or not to file criminal charges will then be made by the locally elected district attorney.
  2. I have concerns about the manner in which the local police or sheriff's department is handling my matter. Who should I contact? It is the Department of Justice general policy that local governments will be primarily responsible for citizen complaints against law enforcement agencies or employees of law enforcement agencies, and that appropriate local resources (e.g. sheriff or police department, district attorney, citizens review commission, and grand jury in the area of jurisdiction) be utilized for resolution of such complaints . The Attorney General will review citizen complaints against a law enforcement agency or its employees for possible investigation when substantive allegations of unlawful conduct are made and all appropriate local resources for redress have been exhausted. You should first direct your complaint to the local law enforcement agency. Every law enforcement agency in California is required to establish a procedure to investigate citizens' complaints ( Penal Code Section 832.5 ). A written description of the procedure is available from all law enforcement agencies. If a resolution of your complaint is not obtained through this procedure, you should write to the county district attorney and county grand jury in the county where the law enforcement agency is located. Contact information for county district attorneys is available from the California District Attorney’s Association. Contact information for county grand juries is available from the California Grand Jurors' Association. If you have exhausted your local remedies, you may write to the Attorney General's Office. Your correspondence must include specific information about misconduct that violates state law, the details of your efforts to resolve the complaint with the local authorities, copies of your complaint(s) to the local authorities and copies of their response(s). Correspondence that does not contain this information cannot be acted upon.
  3. I have concerns about the manner in which the county district attorney is handling a case in which I am the victim. Who should I contact? California law gives discretionary authority to a locally elected prosecutor in filing criminal actions. The decision whether or not to file charges calls for consideration of the prospects of obtaining a conviction against a particular defendant. In making that decision, the district attorney must evaluate the likelihood that a jury, after weighing all of the conflicting evidence, would find the defendant guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." We understand it is not uncommon for members of the public to differ with the district attorney on the question of whether the filing of criminal charges is warranted. However, that decision rests with the locally elected official responsible for such a decision, the district attorney. Your concerns should be addressed directly to the district attorney
  4. I need information about resources available to victims. Who should I contact? Victim/Witness Assistance Centers are located in every county, usually within the District Attorney's Office. Contact information is available at http://vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/localhelp.aspx In addition, please visit our Victims’ Services Unit website, at http://oag.ca.gov/victimservices
  5. I am being prosecuted for a crime that I did not commit. Who should I contact? We are unable to assist you. This office has no authority to provide advice or representation to defendants. In addition, the role of the Attorney General's Office is to represent the State of California in criminal appellate cases and to advocate that convictions be upheld. We suggest that you consult with your attorney. Your attorney directly represents your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. If you have already been convicted of a crime and are seeking a pardon, you should contact the Office of the Governor. You may contact the Governor as follows:
  6. I have a complaint against an attorney. Who should I contact? The State Bar of California takes complaints against attorney, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified. You may contact the Bar as follows:
    • Intake Unit
    • State Bar of California
    • 1149 South Hill Street
    • Los Angeles, CA 90015
    • Telephone: (213) 765-1000 (outside of CA) or (800) 843-9053 (toll free)
    • Internet: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/
  7. I have a complaint against a judge. Who should I contact? The Commission on Judicial Performance is the independent state agency responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and judicial incapacity and for disciplining judges. You may contact the Commission as follows:
    • Commission on Judicial Performance
    • 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
    • San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Telephone: (415) 557-1200
    • Fax: (415) 557-1266
    • Internet: http://cjp.ca.gov/
  8. I have a complaint against a state correctional facility or correctional employee. Who should I contact? The Office of the Inspector General is responsible for independent oversight of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which includes Adult Operations, Adult Programs, Juvenile Justice, the Corrections Standards Authority, the Board of Parole Hearings, the State Commission on Juvenile Justice, the Prison Industry Authority, and the Prison Industry Board. You may contact the Inspector General as follows:
    • Office of the Inspector General
    • P.O. Box 348780
    • Sacramento, California 95834-8780
    • Telephone: (800) 700-5952
    • Internet: http://www.oig.ca.gov/

Legal Assistance FAQs Answered

  1. I need legal advice or representation. Who can help me? The Office of the Attorney General is prohibited by law from representing private individuals or providing legal advice, legal research or legal analysis to private individuals under any circumstances. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by calling the State Bar at 1-866-442-2529 (toll free in California) or 415-538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov.
  2. I cannot afford a private attorney. What free or low-cost legal assistance is available? If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may consider contacting your local legal aid office. For a referral, visit www.lsc.gov and click on the Find Legal Assistance tab.
  3. I need to know what law pertains to my situation. Who can help me with legal research? California law is available on the Internet at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html and United States law is available on the Internet at http://uscode.house.gov/search/criteria.shtml. You may also wish to visit your county law library. You can locate your nearest California law library at http://www.publiclawlibrary.org/find.html If you are unable to find a law on your own, then we suggest that you consult with a private attorney. Our office cannot provide legal advice, analysis or research to parties other than state officers and agencies.
  4. How do I request an Attorney General's opinion? Under Government Code section 12519, the Attorney General's Office has statutory authority to prepare an opinion only for designated public officials on questions of law relating to their respective offices. Those officials include constitutional officers, state legislators, state agencies, district attorneys, prosecuting city attorneys, county counsels, county sheriffs and judges. If you are not a designated public official and you wish to obtain a legal opinion, we suggest that you consult with a private attorney. If you are a designated public official, please visit our Legal Opinions page at http://oag.ca.gov/opinions
  5. I lost a civil lawsuit, and I feel the outcome was unjust. Who can help me? The Attorney General has no jurisdiction in matters already before the court or in matters where the courts have already rendered a decision. In addition, we are prohibited by law from representing private individuals or providing legal advice, legal research or legal analysis to private individuals under any circumstances. We suggest that you consult with a private attorney to determine any civil remedies that may be available to you. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you.
  6. I have a complaint about the attorney and/or judge involved in my case. Who do I contact? Your complaint about a California attorney should be directed to the State Bar. You may contact the Bar as follows:
    • State Bar of California
    • 1149 South Hill Street
    • Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299
    • Telephone: (213) 765-1000 (outside of CA) or (800) 843-9053 (toll free)
    • Website: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/
    Your complaint about a California judge should be directed to the Commission on Judicial Performance. The Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over complaints against judges. You may contact the Commission as follows:
    • Commission on Judicial Performance
    • 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
    • San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Telephone: (415) 557-1200
    • Fax: (415) 557-1266
    • Website: http://www.cjp.ca.gov/
  7. How do I obtain court forms? You may obtain court forms by visiting the Judicial Council of California / Administrative Office of the Courts website at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/formsrules.htm
  8. How do I file a Small Claims lawsuit? For information and assistance, please contact your county Small Claim’s Court Advisor at http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-advisors.htm

Obtaining Government Records FAQs Answered

  1. Where can I obtain information about the California Public Records Act? Please visit our Public Records page, at http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/pra
  2. How do I get copies of vital records (e.g. birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees)? California birth, death, fetal death, still birth, marriage and divorce records are maintained by the California Department of Public Health Vital Records. This agency may be contacted as follows:
  3. How do I authenticate official documents to be used outside of the United States? The California Secretary of State provides authentication (apostille or certification) of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States. This agency may be contacted as follows:
  4. How do I obtain court records (e.g. pleadings, exhibits, transcripts)? Our office does not maintain court records. Court records are kept in the court clerk's office. To obtain a court record, you will need to contact the clerk of the court where the case was adjudicated. The clerk will either be able to provide you with the record, or advise you if the record has been transferred or destroyed. If you are seeking a criminal case record that has been purged by a local court, you may have been referred to our office in error. Our office does maintain criminal history summary records. However, these records are lists of arrests and convictions attributable to an individual, not the actual court record. Individuals have the right to request a copy of their own criminal history summary record from our office to review the information for accuracy and completeness. Information about how to obtain your own state summary criminal history record is available at http://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/security
  5. How do I obtain a copy of a will or trust? Neither our office nor any other State office routinely maintains copies of wills and trusts. We suggest that you contact the attorney who prepared the will or trust. If the estate has already been probated, contact the Superior Court in the county where the death occurred or where the assets are primarily located.
  6. How do I obtain corporate records for business entities, such as corporations? The Secretary of State's Office provides access to corporate, limited liability company and limited partnership information. Available information includes the complete entity name, entity number, formation, registration or conversion date, status, jurisdiction, entity address, and the name and address of the agent for service of process. This agency may be contacted as follows:
    • Secretary of State
    • Business Programs Division
    • 1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
    • P.O. Box 944260
    • Sacramento, CA 94244-2600
    • Telephone: (916) 657-5448
    • Website: http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/
  7. How do I obtain records pertaining to unclaimed property held by the State? State law requires businesses to turn over unclaimed money and property to the state Controller's Office. The unclaimed property typically stems from bank accounts, dividends, uncashed checks, matured or terminated insurance policies or certificates of deposit. If you want to find out if California is holding money or property for you, please contact:
    • Office of the Controller
    • Division of Collections
    • Bureau of Unclaimed Property
    • P.O. Box 942850
    • Sacramento, CA 94250-5873
    • Telephone: (800) 992-4647 (within California) or (916) 323-2827 (outside California)
    • Website: http://www.sco.ca.gov/upd_msg.html
    You don't need to pay anyone for this service. Owners or heirs may claim their property directly from the state Controller's Office without any service charges or fees. If you suspect that you may have unclaimed property being held in another state, there are additional resources to assist you. You can search for this information for free at www.unclaimed.org ,which is a website maintained by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Unclaimed property from a failed bank may also be held by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). To contact the FDIC, go to www.fdic.gov/index.html or call 1-877-275-3342 (toll free).
  8. How do I obtain records of complaints against businesses? Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shop for checking out companies, and our office cannot give you personal legal advice or comment on the legitimacy of a particular business. By researching a company, you may be able to detect whether the business is legitimate and help ensure that you invest wisely your hard-earned money. If you have any doubts about a company's business practices, here is some general advice to consider:
    • Ask for a list of references. The list should include companies from which the company buys materials, as well as distributors or customers to whom the company sells products or services.
    • Ask for a business statement. A business statement should describe the daily practices of the company. It should provide general information on the company, such as the number of years in business, its locations, the owners and a description of its organizational structure.
    • Ask about licenses and compliance with applicable state and local requirements. Find out what licenses the company must possess and who to contact to verify that the licenses have been obtained. Find out what actions the company has taken to ensure that all its actions are legal within the State of California.
    • Ask about a stock portfolio or income statement. If you are thinking about investing in a company, ask for a stock portfolio or income statement. These documents will provide the investor with information on the company's assets and liabilities. If the firm is publicly traded, check the company's website for financial statements and other regulatory filings. Conduct an Internet search for as much information as you can learn about the company's performance and conduct, and what others are saying about the company.
    • Check complaints about the company. As a law enforcement agency, the Attorney General's Office does not release information on consumer complaints that involve as-yet-unproven allegations that could create misleading and unfair impressions about a company. Our Consumer Law Section uses these consumer complaints to look for patterns of deceptive or unfair business practices where legal action brought by the Attorney General could serve the interest of the general public. While information from our office is limited, you may able to learn about consumer complaints about the company by contacting the Better Business Bureau where the company is located or doing business. See www.bbb.org.

Children and Family FAQs Answered

  1. I have a complaint about a child custody case. Who should I contact? The Attorney General’s Office cannot assist you with a child custody or visitation matter. Concerns about child custody and visitation orders issued by the Family Court must be directed to the Family Court Services Office in the county where the orders were issued. Family Court Investigators, Child Custody Evaluators, and Family Court Mediators are available to provide dispute resolution in each of the 58 counties. If you suspect that a child's health or safety is jeopardized due to abuse or neglect by a parent or other caretaker who has custody of the child, please contact the police or sheriff's department and the Child Welfare Services Agency in the county where the child resides. If you are the victim of parental child stealing or willful concealment of your child to frustrate visitation, you should file a report with your local police or sheriff's department, who will refer the case to the county District Attorney's Office for prosecution, if appropriate. If you have a complaint against the judge assigned to this case, contact the Commission on Judicial Performance. The Commission is responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and judicial incapacity and for disciplining judges. The Commission may be contacted as follows:
    • Commission on Judicial Performance
    • 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
    • San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Telephone: (415) 557-1200
    • Fax: (415) 557-1266
    • Internet: http://cjp.ca.gov/
    If you have a complaint against an attorney involved with this case, contact the State Bar. The Bar takes complaints against attorneys from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints, and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified. You may contact the Bar as follows:
    • Intake Unit
    • State Bar of California
    • 1149 South Hill Street
    • Los Angeles, CA 90015
    • Telephone: (213) 765-1000 (outside of CA) or (800) 843-9053 (toll free)
    • Internet: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/
    If you have a complaint against a mediator or evaluator with Family Court Services, talk to the Director of Family Court Services at your local court to find out how to make a complaint. Follow the procedures for filing a complaint in your court. If you are not happy with the result after you file the complaint, you can explain your complaint to the judge at the time of your hearing. If your complaint is about ethical conduct, or if you believe the court did not deal with your complaint appropriately, there are state licensing boards that address complaints about licensed professionals. The Board of Behavioral Sciences licenses and regulates Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), and Licensed Educational Psychologists (LEP). This agency may be contacted as follows:
    • Board of Behavioral Sciences
    • 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite S-200
    • Sacramento, CA 95834
    • Telephone: (916) 574-7830
    • Fax: (916) 574-8625
    • Internet: http://www.bbs.ca.gov/
    The Board of Psychology licenses and regulates psychologists. This agency may be contacted as follows:
    • California Board of Psychology
    • 1625 North Market Blvd, Suite N-215
    • Sacramento, CA 95834
    • Office Main Line 916-574-7720
    • Toll Free 866-503-3221
    • Internet: http://www.psychboard.ca.gov/
    Finally, we recommend that you consult with a family law attorney. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by contacting the State Bar at (866)442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415)538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov.
  2. I need help with an international child custody issue. Who should I contact?
  3. I need help with a child support case. Who should I contact?
    • California Department of Child Support Services
    • P.O. Box 419064
    • Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9064
    • Telephone: (916) 464-5050 or (866) 249-0773 (toll free)
    • Fax: (916) 464-5065
    • Internet: http://www.childsup.cahwnet.gov/
  4. I have a complaint against Child Protective Services (CPS). Who should I contact? The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is responsible for providing statewide oversight of county Child Welfare Services (CWS) programs. The Office of Foster Care Ombudsman, within the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), handles complaints against county Child Welfare Services (CWS) programs. You may contact this agency as follows:
    • Office of Foster Care Ombudsman
    • California Department of Social Services
    • 744 P Street, M.S. 8-13-25
    • Sacramento, California 95814
    • Toll Free Number: 1-877-846-1602
    • Email Address: fosteryouthhelp@dss.ca.gov
    Complaints about county agencies in California that provide CWS should be sent to the Department of Social Services only after efforts have been made to resolve problems directly with county management. To do this, you must send the county agency a letter explaining your concerns with a request that they respond to you in writing. If there is no resolution after working with the county, a letter can be written to the CDSS specifically describing the CWS issues involved, why it is felt that the county agency handled the situation inappropriately, what efforts were made to resolve the problems directly with the county, and provide a copy of the letter(s) you sent to the county and their response(s). Information should also be provided regarding the names, ages or dates of births, and addresses of all the children involved; the names of the parents or other caretakers; and the names and office location of county CWS agency staff already familiar with the case. Letters with the above information should be mailed to the CDSS at the physical address or e-mail address shown above.
  5. I have a complaint about a public school. Who should I contact? You may want to contact the California Department of Education (CDE), which has limited jurisdiction over some types of complaints against schools and school districts. The areas in which the CDE has complaint oversight are explained below. You may also file a written complaint with our Office. While our Office cannot represent private individuals in personal matters nor provide you with individual assistance, we do review complaints to develop information about patterns or practices of activities which might indicate the need for formal investigation or law enforcement action by our office. If your complaint pertains to special education, please contact:
    • California Department of Education
    • Special Education Division
    • Procedural Safeguards Referral Service
    • 1430 N Street, Suite 2401
    • Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
    • Telephone: 1-800-926-0648
    • Website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/fp/
    If your complaint pertains to Federal or State civil rights violations, please contact:
    • California Department of Education
    • Office of Equal Opportunity
    • 1430 N Street
    • Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
    • Telephone: 1-916-445-9174
    • Website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/eo/
    If your complaint pertains to categorical programs that are mandated by statute, such as No Child Left Behind or Limited English Proficiency, please contact: Other types of complaints against a school, district, principal, teacher, or school personnel may not be within the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education or any other state agency, and should be addressed at the local level. Generally, those issues handled at the local level may include hiring and evaluation of staff, classroom assignments, student advancement and retention, selection/provision of textbooks and materials, student discipline, provision of core curricula subjects, facilities, graduation requirements, homework policies and practices, use of general education funds, dress codes, and school uniforms. Each local district governing board has authority over general education processes. Please contact your local school district administration to determine what local processes govern the resolution of complaints. If your complaint is against a principal, teacher, or school personnel, you may want to ask your local district for information on their employee grievance process. If you have knowledge of misconduct by a teacher or principal, please contact: Finally, you may wish to consult with an attorney to determine any civil remedies that may be available to you. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by contacting the State Bar at (866)442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415)538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov.
  6. I was married outside of the United States. Is my marriage legal or recognized in California? For information on this topic, please refer to Family Code Section 308, which reads in pertinent part: A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in this state. You should also be aware that a foreign marriage certificate cannot be recorded in California. If you need to establish a record of the marriage in California, you can file a petition in Superior Court to establish a Court Order Delayed Certificate of marriage. If you have any questions or need any further information, please consult with your County Clerk or County Recorder's Office and/or a private family law attorney.
  7. Who is permitted to perform marriages in California? For information on this topic, please refer to California Family Code Sections 400-402. If you have any questions or need any further information, please consult with your County Clerk or County Recorder's Office, the California Department of Public Health, and/or a private family law attorney.
  8. I was divorced outside of the United States. Is my divorce legal or recognized in California? For information on this topic, please refer to California Family Code Sections 2090-2093. In addition, we recommend that you consult with a private attorney. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by contacting the State Bar at (866)442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415)538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov

Civil and Workers' Rights FAQs Answered

  1. How can I obtain information about unlawful discrimination? Please visit our Civil Rights page at http://oag.ca.gov/civil
  2. I wish to report a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Who do I contact? The agency with authority to investigate violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the U.S. Department of Justice. You may contact this agency as follows:
    • U.S. Department of Justice
    • Civil Rights Division
    • 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    • Disability Rights Section - NYAV
    • Washington DC 20530
    • (800) 514-0301
    • TTY (800) 514-0383
    • Internet: http://www.ada.gov
    The state agency with authority to investigate complaints of discrimination in the areas of public accommodation, employment, housing, and hate violence is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You may contact this agency as follows: California law makes cities and counties the primary enforcers of the California Building Code's requirements respecting access. Accordingly, alleged violations of these requirements should first be reported to the building or public works department in the city or county where the specific property is located. In addition, individuals who experience discrimination or other violations of law can often file a lawsuit in court. You may wish to consult with a private attorney to determine any civil remedies that may be available to you. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by contacting the State Bar at (866)442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415)538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov.
  3. My employer is discriminating against me. Who do I contact?
  4. My employer is violating California labor laws and/or owes me wages. Who do I contact? The state agency with the authority to adjudicate wage claims and enforce labor laws is the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Examples of possible wage claims include the nonpayment of wages, overtime, or vacation. Examples of possible labor law violations include failure to provide workers compensation insurance, child labor, cash pay, unlicensed contractors, minimum wage and overtime claims, failure to provide rest and/or meal periods, and discrimination or retaliation for exercising employee rights or engaging in protected activities. To file a wage claim or report a labor law violation, please contact the DLSE district office closest to the city/location/community where you performed work. A list of DLSE district offices and their contact information is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DistrictOffices.htm The Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is responsible for enforcing California laws and regulations pertaining to workplace safety and health. To report a workplace accident, or to file a complaint, please contact the Cal/OSHA enforcement unit district office closest to the workplace where the accident occurred or the complaint conditions exist. A list of Cal/OSHA district offices and their contact information is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/DistrictOffices.htm If you have information that an employer is committing tax evasion, please contact the appropriate state and/or federal tax enforcement agencies. These agencies may be contacted as follows: State income tax: State sales tax: State payroll tax: Federal income tax: If your employer retaliates against you because of your efforts to report alleged wrongdoing, you may wish to seek whistleblower protection pursuant to California Labor Code Section 1102.5. You may do so by filing a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Complaint Investigations Unit. This agency may be contacted as follows:
    • California Department of Industrial Relations
    • Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
    • Discrimination Complaint Investigations Unit
    • 2031 Howe Avenue, Suite 100
    • Sacramento, CA 95825
    This Discrimination Complaints Investigations Unit handles complaints from employees who are retaliated against by their employer for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a state or federal statute, or violation or noncompliance with a state or federal regulation, including, laws enacted for the protection of corporate shareholders, investors, employees, and the general public. This agency also handles complaints from employees who are retaliated against by their employer because they refuse to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. In addition, individuals who experience violations of law can often file a lawsuit in court. You may wish to consult with a private attorney to determine any civil remedies that may be available to you. An attorney would directly represent your interests and is the one whose advice would be most helpful to you. You may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service by contacting the State Bar at (866)442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415)538-2250 (from outside California), or via their website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov.
  5. I am the victim of housing discrimination? Who do I contact?
  6. I am the victim of discrimination in services provided by a business such as a hotel, restaurant or store. Who should I contact?

Department Contact Information

  • Mailing Address
  • Attorney General's Office
  • California Department of Justice
  • Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
  • P.O. Box 944255
  • Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
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For questions regarding the Department of Justice contact

  • Public Inquiry Unit
  • Voice: (916) 322-3360 or
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  • Fax: (916) 323-5341
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  • Voice: (800) 735-2922

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