California-based employers with five or more employees must now comply with amended anti-discrimination regulations regarding the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that went into effect on April 1, 2016. These regulations could usher in a wave of tightened discrimination laws around the nation.
The Department of Justice, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have all recently issued guidance regarding transgender employees in the workplace. In fact, the EEOC recently updated their fact sheet to clarify that discrimination by employers based on transgender status is considered sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The amended FEHA regulations continue this trend by bringing a few changes to existing discrimination laws, including:
How to know if you’re required to comply with the new regulations
Any company with five or more employees that has at least one employee in California will need to comply with FEHA regulations for their California employees. This includes all California employees who are full-time, part-time, currently on leave or on suspension.
Be aware of additional protected classes
Protected classes under the FEHA regulations are groups of individuals who must not be discriminated against. Categories of protected classes include:
The amended regulations define the following key terms related to gender discrimination:
All new regulations must be in writing
Companies to whom the law applies are required to create detailed written policies for preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation. They are also required to distribute them to all employees, interns and volunteers. Previously, only anti-harassment policies needed to be in writing. The specific requirements of what must be included in the written policies are:
Specific training rules for larger companies
For companies with 50 or more employees, all supervisors must take part in a minimum two-hour training on these regulations. This training needs to take place every two years and within six months of promotion to supervisor. The training can be done by webinar, e-learning or in-person and must be conducted by an attorney, HR professional or other qualified instructor. The supervisor harassment training includes specific requirements that must be met. Documentation of the training must be kept for a minimum of two years with specific information requirements. TriNet provides leadership training to help clients stay compliant with these regulations.
What employers need to do to be compliant
Understand whether or not your company falls under the expanded definition of which California employers must comply with these new regulations:
For a more in-depth analysis of your business HR needs within California, contact Jon Siders at TriNet. Jon.Siders@Trinet.com (858) 333-7509
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