California`s Doctrine of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In California, an employee complaining of wrongful employment practices may be required to exhaust his or her administrative remedies before seeking relief through the courts. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies serves important policy considerations, furthering a number of important societal and governmental interests, including: (1) bolstering administrative autonomy; (2) permitting the agency to resolve factual issues, apply its expertise and exercise statutorily delegated remedies; (3) mitigating damages; (4) promoting judicial economy. The doctrine applies when the entity whose "quasi-judicial" determination is challenged has provided an internal remedy. The reason for the exhaustion requirement in this context is that, as a matter of policy, the entity itself should in the first instance pass on the merits of an individual's application rather than shift this burden to the courts. For courts to undertake the task " 'routinely in every such case constitutes both an intrusion into the internal affairs of the entity and an unwise burden on judicial administration of the courts.' " (Rojo v. Kliger (1990) 52 Cal.3d 65, 86; accord, Schifando v. City of Los Angeles (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1074, 1091-1092.)