The Fair Employment and Housing Council recently adopted amendments to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) regulations. The amendments, which take effect on April 1, 2016, require that employers develop and distribute harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policies that contain certain required elements.
California employers have an affirmative obligation under FEHA to create a workplace environment that is free from discriminatory, harassing and retaliatory conduct. To that end, the new regulations require that employers adopt written harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policies that:
- List all current protected categories covered under FEHA.
- Indicate that coworkers and third parties, as well as supervisors and managers, with whom the employee comes into contact are prohibited from engaging in discriminatory, harassing or retaliatory conduct.
- Create a complaint process to ensure that complaints are kept confidential, to the extent possible; receive a timely response; are impartially and timely investigated by qualified personnel; and are documented and tracked for reasonable progress. In addition, the complaint process must provide for appropriate options for remedial action and timely closure.
- Provide a complaint process that does not require an employee to complain directly to his or her immediate supervisor.
- Require supervisors to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative, such as a human resources manager.
- Indicate that when an employer receives a complaint, it will conduct a fair, timely, and thorough investigation that provides all parties appropriate due process and reaches reasonable conclusions based on the evidence collected.
- State that confidentiality will be kept by the employer to the extent possible.
- Indicate that appropriate remedial measures will be taken if, at the end of the investigation, misconduct is found.
- Make clear that employees will not be exposed to retaliation as a result of lodging a complaint or participating in any workplace investigation.
Harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policies must be disseminated to all employees. The regulations provide for dissemination using one or more of the following methods:
- Printing and providing a copy to all employees with an acknowledgment form for the employee to sign and return;
- Sending the policy via e-mail with an acknowledgment return form;
- Posting current versions of the policies on a company intranet with a tracking system ensuring all employees have read and acknowledged receipt of the policies;
- Discussing policies upon hire and/or during a new hire orientation session; and/or
- Any other way that ensures employees receive and understand the policies.
Employers must translate the written policy into every spoken language that is used by at least 10% of the workforce at any facility or establishment.
California employers should ensure that they have written policies that comply with the new regulations prior to April 1, 2016. For a full text of the regulations, please click here. Please feel free to contact us if you would like assistance with updating your policies.
Please note that this summary is not intended to constitute legal advice.
If you have questions regarding compliance with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.