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.