California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
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What Is FEHA?
The Fair Employment and Housing Act is a statute in California that protects the public from discrimination associated with employment and housing. Protections under FEHA tend to be more encompassing than similar federal protections. FEHA is enforced by the Department of Fair Housing (DFEH), which also investigates, prosecutes, and resolves Californians’ discrimination complaints.
On April 1, 2016, new regulations went into effect regarding the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The laws issued are new anti-discrimination and anti-harassment regulations that employers must comply with and also additional compliance and procedure requirements regarding the policies. The new regulations:
- Require employers to develop new anti-discrimination and harassment policies.
- Require employers to distribute written policies to employees in English as well as other languages that are spoken by at least 10% of the workforce.
- Impose new polices that expand on conducting discrimination and harassment training and education.
- Update the definition of gender identity, gender expression, and transgender under FEHA.
- Update regulations regarding employer-employee obligations for Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).
What Is the Scope of FEHA?
California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discriminations on the basis of race, religion, nationality, age (40 years and above), mental or physical disability, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy and conditions associated with pregnancy. Retaliation for complaining against discriminatory treatment is likewise forbidden.
California FEHA covers not only individual employees and employers but also labor organizations, employment bureaus, and anyone who aids and abets violations of FEHA. It also directs employers to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees.
What’s Special about California law?
California Fair Employment and Housing Act provides more stringent requirements than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
- More employees and employers are covered by FEHA
- Employers must have open and fair discussions with disabled employees about accommodations and employment options.
- Employees’ rights cannot be bargained away through collective bargaining.
California’s law also covers more employees than the federal Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) because it defines disability broadly. Under FEHA, disability doesn’t have to be substantial to warrant a reasonable accommodation.
What Steps Should California Employers Take to Ensure Compliance With the New FEHA Regulations?
Employers can take a variety of steps to comply with the new FEHA regulations. First, employers should ensure that they have provided written policies that comply with the new FEHA regulations to all employees. They should also provide training and education to all employees regarding the new policies. Also, employers should ensure proper complaint and investigation procedures are in place if an issue were to arise.
What Are the New Regulations Regarding Pregnancy Disability Leave?
Under the new FEHA regulations that went into effect April 1, 2016, the length of Pregnancy Disability Leave is now up to four months. Employees are also eligible for the leave and continued benefits per pregnancy, not per year. The new Pregnancy Disability Leave regulations also include:
- Employee’s Right to request reasonable accommodation, transfer, or pregnancy disability leave.
- Employee’s Right to Pregnancy Leave
- Employee’s Obligation to provide adequate notice to the employer of their need for Pregnancy Disability
- Employee’s Obligation to provide medical certification to prove their need for Pregnancy Disability Leave
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you feel that you have been a victim of discrimination, your best interests will be served by seeking legal help from an employment attorney. An attorney will discuss available courses of action, such as filing your complaint with the DFEH, as well as pursuing a private lawsuit.
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Last Modified: 08-24-2016 10:10 PM PDT
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