As we discussed at length in this post, this year we will see substantial changes to FEHA that will affect business owners across the country, including in California. To get specific, FEHA’s new regulations set forth that, as of April 1, 2016, employers must have anti-discrimination and harassment policies that:
· Are in writing.
· List the categories of individuals protected by FEHA.
· Clearly state that FEHA prohibits coworkers, third parties, supervisors and managers from engaging in discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct.
· Provide a complaint process to ensure grievances are: kept as confidential as possible, responded to timely; investigated by qualified personnel in a sensible and impartial manner; and documented and tracked.
· Instruct supervisors to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative to attempt to resolve the claim internally.
· Note that allegations of misconduct will be addressed through a fair, timely, and thorough investigation.
· Indicate that if misconduct is found during the investigation, appropriate remedial measures shall be taken.
· Inform employees that they will not be retaliated against for lodging a complaint or participating in an investigation.
These new requirements are, of course, in addition to the already-existing requirement for employers to distribute the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)-185 brochure on sexual harassment.
An employer’s job does not end there. The regulations further require employers to disseminate the anti-discrimination and harassment policies. An employer’s options in this regard include:
· Providing a copy of the policies to all employees either in hard copy or by email with an acknowledgment form for employees to sign.
· Posting the policies on a company intranet site and use a tracking system to ensure all employees read and acknowledge receipt of the policies.
· Discussing the policies upon hire or during new-hire orientation sessions.
How Do These New Regulations Impact CA Employers?
Given the substantive additional requirements, how does a California employer ensure compliance with the new regulations? As always, start with the written employee guide. When updating this handbook, employers should also:
· Review and update anti-discrimination and harassment policies prior to April 1, 2016.
· Dispense anti-discrimination and harassment policies via one or more of the approved methods (in addition to Form DFEH-185).
· Confirm that appropriate complaint and investigation procedures are in place.
· Train human resources personnel on how to address all inquiries and potential complaints related to implementation of these new policies and procedures.
For more information on how to transition these updates to FEHA into your workplace, contact business attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.