California Employers — Take Action Now to Comply With New FEHA regulations

Starting April 1, 2016, California’s amended Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations go into effect. Is your organization prepared?

These new regulations make five significant changes to FEHA that impact employers who have employees in California.

  1. Expanded definition of “covered employer.” FEHA applies to employers with 5 or more employees. The new regulations clarify that an employer’s out-of-state employees and employees out on a leave of absence count towards the 5-employee requirement. In other words, a Michigan-based company with a small office of 3-4 employees in California may be sued under FEHA by its California-based employees.
  2. Written anti-discrimination and harassment policies. Employers are required to develop (and distribute) written anti-discrimination and harassment policies that contain certain provisions, including, but not limited to a detailed complaint reporting procedure. To find out more about these requirements, please read our previous blog entitled “California Employers – Do Your Anti-Discrimination/Harassment/Retaliation Policies Meet The New Requirements?.”
  3. New Pregnancy Disability Leave Poster. California employers were already required to post the California Pregnancy Disability Leave notice, but the new regulations have changed the required wording of the notice. To find out more about the new posting requirements, please read our previous blog entitled “New FEHA Regulations Also Require California Employers to Update Their PDL Notices.”
  4. New training requirements. California employers were already required to provide employees with training regarding anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, but the training must now cover “abusive conduct” (i.e. workplace bullying”) and must address the following:
    1. The negative effects of “abusive conduct,” including reduction in productivity and morale;
    2. The elements of “abusive conduct,” including conduct taken with malice that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive and that is not related to an employer’s legitimate business interests; and
    3. Emphasize that while a single act ordinarily will not constitute abusive conduct, it could if it is particularly severe or egregious.
  5. Newly defined protected classes. The new regulations provide new definitions for “gender expression,” “gender identity” and “transgender.”
    1. “Gender expression” means a person’s gender-related appearance or behavior, whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s sex at birth.
    2. “Gender identity” means a person’s identification as male, female, a gender different from the person’s sex at birth, or transgender.
    3. “Transgender” is a general term that refers to a person whose gender identity differs from the person’s sex at birth. A transgender person may or may not have a gender expression that is different from the social expectations of the sex assigned at birth. A transgender person may or may not identify as “transsexual.

If you have any questions regarding these new FEHA regulations, please contact an HR Professional.