Prohibiting workplace discrimination and harassment, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)1 offers a number of important protections to California workers. While this law has been updated various times since it first took effect in 1959, the latest round of amendments to the FEHA has further enhanced workers’ rights and protections under this statute.
Below is an overview of these new amendments to the California FEHA, which officially took effect on April 1, 2016.
For employers: Employers covered by the FEHA include those who staff at least five employees. While, prior to April 2016, the five employees had to be working within the state of California, this new amendment clarifies that, now, employees outside of California can also be counted and that an employer (with at least 5 employees) only has to have one employee in California in order to be covered by the FEHA.
For workers: As part of the enhanced coverage provided by these new amendments, more people than “employees” are now entitled to FEHA protections. Specifically, the new amendments clarify that both unpaid interns and volunteers, as well as paid workers and employees, are protected by the FEHA (when their employers are covered by this law).
Stricter policy requirements for covered employers – Under this amendment, covered employers are now obligated to have written, detailed policies regarding their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protocols. As part of these updates, employers are specifically required to:
Distribute their written policies to employees
Conduct regular employee training on anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies
Maintain detailed records about all FEHA-related training administered to staff
Provide employees with specific information about their rights under the FEHA, as well as the proper methods for filing discrimination and harassment complaints (in the event they arise).
Updates to the terms regarding pregnancy disability leave (PDL) – Clarifying the terms of PDL, this amendment effectively provides that:
PDL, which can be up to four (4) months long, is available for each pregnancy, rather than being available only once per year.
PDL can be split up; in other words, all four months of PDL do not have to be taken consecutively.
Transgender employees who become pregnant or who are affected by a pregnancy-related condition are entitled to PDL.
Covered employers are required to post the most recent PDL directive (entitled Your Rights & Obligations as a Pregnancy Employee) somewhere in the workplace.
Expanded enforcement options for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) – This amendment, which empowers the DFEH with some new muscle, allows regulators to now take action to prevent discrimination and harassment in California workplaces, even if such violations have not yet actually occurred in a given workplace.
Please note that these are by no means the only amendments to the FEHA to take effect as of this month. For the complete text of all the latest amendments to the FEHA, click here.
Contact a Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC
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