Unlawful Discrimination

State and federal law prohibit discrimination or retaliation against persons or groups, or those associated with them on the basis of an actual or perceived characteristic related to ethnic group identification, national origin, immigration status, religion, age, sex, gender, gender identification, gender expression, military and veteran status, marital status, medical condition, race, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

These laws provide that protected persons and groups, or those associated with them, shall neither be denied full and equal access to the benefits of, nor be subjected to, discrimination under any program or activity that is administered by, funded directly by, or that receives any financial assistance from, the Chancellor or Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, based upon an actual or perceived characteristic listed above.  

Community college districts must investigate complaints of unlawful discrimination in their programs and activities in accordance with the provisions of Title 5, California Code of Regulations, section 59300 et seq. 

Download the Unlawful Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF) to file with the community college district involved in your allegations.

The Complaint Process

Filing a Complaint

A student or employee of a community college district who wishes to file a complaint alleging that they were subjected to unlawful discrimination may do so by filing a complaint with their community college district.  The district is required to assess the complaint, investigate where appropriate the allegations made, and communicate the district’s determination to both the complainant and the respondent(s).  Student complaints must be filed within one year of the date the alleged unlawful discrimination occurred, or one year from the date on which the complainant knew or should have known of the facts underlying the allegation of unlawful discrimination.  Employment-related complaints must be filed within 180 days of the date the alleged unlawful discrimination occurred.

Please note that, pursuant to title 5, section 59328(a), “Complaints of unlawful discrimination may be written or verbal, and be made by a student, an employee, a parent of a minor, or an individual with legal authority on behalf of a student or employee, who alleges that the student or employee has suffered unlawful discrimination.”

Community college students may also file an unlawful discrimination complaint with the Office Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) (1-800-421-3481 or 1-415-486-5555).

A community college district employee or applicant for employment may file their employment-related complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and/or the California Civil Rights Department (CCRD) at any time.

Appeals to the District’s Governing Board

After the district issues the complainant the administrative determination, if the complainant is not satisfied with the result, they may submit a written appeal to the district’s governing board within thirty (30) days from the date of the administrative determination.  The district governing board must review the matter and issue a final district decision within forty-five (45) days of receiving the appeal.

Appeals to the Chancellor

In cases not involving employment discrimination, if the complainant is not satisfied with the district governing board’s final decision in the matter, the complainant may file an appeal with the Chancellor’s Office.  Appeals to the Chancellor’s Office must be filed within thirty (30) days from the date of the district governing board’s final decision, must be in writing, and submitted via email to or in hard copy to:

California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office
Attention: Office of General Counsel-Discrimination Appeals
1102 Q Street, Sixth Floor
Sacramento, CA 9581

The appeal must include copies of the original complaint, the administrative determination, and the governing board’s final decision.  The Chancellor’s review on appeal is limited to the following issues: 

  1. Whether there was procedural error in violation of the regulations
  2. Whether there was a defect in the investigation
  3. Whether new evidence unavailable during the investigation despite the complainant’s due diligence would substantially impact the outcome of the investigation
  4. Whether correct legal standards were applied, and 
  5. Whether the district’s determination was an abuse of discretion. 

Please note that any appeal must provide specific facts alleging one or more of these grounds.  Failure to do so may result in the summary dismissal of the appeal.

Appeals that are accepted for review shall be reviewed and a determination shall be issued by the Chancellor’s Office within ninety (90) days of receipt of the appellate file from the appropriate district.