Starts April 1 for California Employers 

On April 1, 2016, new California regulations take effect requiring employers to develop written anti-discrimination and harassment policies that meet numerous new and detailed requirements. These regulations require employers to develop and distribute anti-discrimination and harassment policies to employees in English as well as in any additional languages that are spoken by at least 10% of the workforce. The regulations also impose requirements for conducting discrimination and harassment investigations.   

The regulations set forth that, in addition to the already-existing requirement for employers to distribute the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)-185 brochure on sexual harassment, they must now also have anti-discrimination and harassment policies that:

*    Are in writing.

*    List the categories of individuals protected by FEHA.

*    Make clear that FEHA prohibits coworkers, third parties, supervisors and        managers from engaging in discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct.

*    Provide a complaint process to ensure complaints are: kept confidential (to the extent possible); responded to timely; investigated by qualified personnel in a timely and impartial manner; and documented and tracked.  The complaint process also must provide for appropriate remedial actions, resolution of complaints, and timely closure of investigations.

*    Establish a complaint mechanism, such as a complaint hotline or access to an ombudsperson, that does not require an employee to complain directly to an immediate supervisor.

*    Instruct supervisors to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative so the company can try to resolve the claim internally.
*    Clarify that allegations of misconduct will be addressed through a fair, timely, and thorough investigation.

*    State that confidentiality will be kept by the employer to the extent possible.

*    Indicate that if misconduct is found during the investigation, appropriate remedial measures shall be taken.

*    Make clear that the company will not retaliate against employees for lodging a complaint or participating in an investigation.

In addition to the foregoing substantive policy provisions, the regulations require employers to disseminate the anti-discrimination and harassment policies.  To this end, employers can do one of the following:

*    Provide a copy of the policies to all employees either in hard copy or by email with an acknowledgment form for employees to sign.

*    Post the policies on a company intranet site and use a tracking system to ensure all employees read and acknowledge receipt of the policies.

*    Discuss the policies upon hire or during new-hire orientation sessions.