New Requirements for Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention Policies

Recently enacted regulations under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) require employers to develop a harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy that:

1) Is in writing.
2) Lists all current protected groups under FEHA which includes: race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, and military and veteran status.
3) Expressly covers co-workers, third parties, supervisors, and managers.
4) Provides a complaint process to ensure that complaints receive:

a. Reasonable confidentiality;
b. A timely response;
c. Impartial and timely investigations by qualified personnel;
d. Documentation and tracking for reasonable progress;
e. Appropriate remedial actions and resolutions; and
f. Timely closures.

5) Allows employees to complain to someone other than a direct supervisor, such as a human resources manager, a different supervisor, or some other designated representative.
6) Instructs supervisors to report all complaints of misconduct to a designated representative so the employer can attempt to resolve the claim internally.
7) Provides a fair, timely, and thorough investigation process.
8) Informs the employee that confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible, but does not guarantee complete confidentiality.
9) States that remedial action will be taken if any misconduct is found.
10) Provides clear anti-retaliation protections for employees who make a complaint or participate in an investigation.

Distribution of Policies
The regulations require that the policy be distributed by methods, such as:

1) Providing hard copies of the policy to all employees, with an acknowledgment form for the employee to sign and return;
2) Distributing the policy via e-mail with an acknowledgement return form;
3) Posting on an intranet with employees acknowledging receipt; and/or
4) Discussing the policy upon hire or during a new hire orientation session.

Translation Requirements
Employers must translate the harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy into any language that is spoken by at least ten percent (10%) of the employees in a given location.

Immediate Steps
To ensure compliance with the new regulations, employers should take the following steps:

1) Amend harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy;
2) Distribute the updated policy using one of the approved methods;
3) Make sure complaint and investigation procedures are compliant;
4) Appoint a designated representative to handle complaints; and
5) Train supervisors on how to respond to complaints.

For more information, contact:
Nikki Hall (nhall@publiclawgroup.com, (415) 678-3813) or
Susan Yoon (syoon@rshslaw.com, (916) 258-8807)