New FEHA Regulations Effective April 1, 2016

By SHLC on April 8, 2016 in Legal Update
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The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) has amended many of its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment regulations effective April 1, 2016. To begin, the regulations expand the definition of employer by including out-of-state employees in the five employee threshold that triggers application of the regulations. For example, a Nevada company with a small satellite office of three employees in California may be sued under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) if it has five or more employees for wrongful conduct that occurred in California. Small employers should be mindful of these changes and the possibility that they may need to comply with FEHA.

Employers must also ensure that their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies comply with a number of requirements including that the policy be in writing, it should list the FEHA protected categories (age, ancestry, color, etc.), establish that FEHA prohibits discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct by coworkers, third parties, supervisors and managers, and provide a comprehensive complaint procedure.

The regulations also include new rules that require your anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies be disseminated to employees by one of several methods, including: providing a hard copy with an acknowledgement form to sign and return, emailing a copy with an acknowledgment form, posting current versions, and discussing policies upon hire.

Other highlights of the new regulations include translating the policies into a different language if more than ten percent of the workers in a given location speak a primary language other than English. Employers must also be aware of new requirements that govern record keeping for supervisor sexual harassment training, and the fact that anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training must also address the negative effects of “abusive conduct.”

Many of these changes will impact existing employment policies, and, as a result, warrant a review and update of your employee handbook to ensure compliance with the new regulations. A review of your harassment prevention training program is also prudent.

The changes detailed here are just a sampling of the new requirements. To review all of the changes and the final text of the regulations, you can visit the DFEH website at http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/FEHC/FinalText.pdf.

SHLC will offer its next Sexual Harassment and Bullying Prevention Training for California Managers webinar on June 9, 2016. This live webinar will satisfy all the California sexual harassment training requirements. For more information on this and other events, please visit http://suttonhague.com/events/.