The Fair Employment and Housing Act are regulations in California that protect the public from discrimination in employment and housing. Protections under FEHA tend to be more involving and detailed than similar federal protections. FEHA laws are enforced by the California Department of Fair Housing (DFEH).

The FEHA also investigates, prosecutes, and resolves Californians’ discrimination complaints. FEHA is California’s primary law that protects employees against discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in the workplace. The FEHA regulations apply to all California employers that have five or more full-time and part-time employees.

What Are the New California FEHA Regulations that Went Into Effect on April 1, 2016?

On April 1, 2016, new Fair Employment and Housing Act regulations went into effect. The primary law concerning employee discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in the workplace did not change, but the amendments added new detailed requirements that employers must follow regarding policies, procedures, training, and education. The new regulations also gave new definitions to terms that were not included in the old policy, including “gender identity, gender expression, and transgender.”

The amendments in the new and revised regulations effective April 1, 2016 are as follows:

  • Employers must provide the new anti-discrimination, harassment, and retaliation regulations in writing to all employees, including an English version and a version of the policy in a language that more than 10% of the employees in the workforce speak.
  • New definitions of protected employee characteristics.
  • Sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors and record-keeping requirements.
  • New employer and employee obligations regarding Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).

What Are the New California FEHA Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies?

The new FEHA regulations state that employers must provide a written pamphlet that details the new anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. The policies must detail how employees should file claims, how claim procedures are to be done, and it must reassure employees that all complaints filed by employees will be held confidential.

What Are New and Revised Definitions Related to Gender Discrimination?

The new FEHA regulations add detailed definitions that protect any person’s gender expression. This means that any person’s gender related appearance and identification as a male or female should not be discriminated. Also, people that identify their gender differently than their gender at birth should be protected by the new policies. The policy requires employers to define the terms “gender identity”, “gender expression”, and “transgender”. The definitions must be clearly detailed and given to all employees for training and education.

What Are the Anti-Harassment and Record-Keeping Policies under the New FEHA Regulations?

The existing FEHA regulations require all employers that have 50 or more employees to train all supervisors on harassment training every 2 years. The new regulations detail how these trainings should be done and how records of the trainings should be kept. The trainings must also be interactive.

The purpose of the trainings are to educate supervisors on how to report harassment claims brought to their attention by employees. The trainings also provide the employer’s process for avoiding potential harassment behavior in the workplace and provide employers training on how to prevent bullying in the workplace. The records of the trainings conducted should be kept for 2 years.

What New FEHA Regulations are Related to Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)?

The new FEHA amendments confirm that the time length of PDL is up to four months. The amendments also confirm that employees are entitled to leave per pregnancy, and not per year. Employers must provide the new PDL regulations on April 1, 2016. All employees are required to give notice before they leave for pregnancy and employers should not discriminate or retaliate against employees who need to leave work for pregnancy related matters.

Who Does the New California FEHA Regulations Apply to?

The new California FEHA regulations that go into effect April 1, 2016 apply to all employers that have five or more employees. In addition, the FEHA applies to employers with five or more employees regardless whether the employees work in or outside of California as long as the wrongful act actually happens within California. These regulations apply to all full-time, part time, and on-leave employees. The FEHA regulations regarding anti-harassment provisions apply to all employers with at least one employee.

Do I Need an Attorney?

The new California FEHA are very complicated and detailed and if you have any issues, questions, or believe to have been a victim of discrimination or harassment, your best interest will be serviced by getting legal help from an employment attorney. An employment attorney can guide you through the process and also discuss the available courses of action available to you, such as filing a complaint with the DFEH.