As part of the approved amendments made to the Fair Employment and Housing Act Regulations which went into effect on April 1, 2016, the amendments clarify an employer’s affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discriminatory and harassing conduct in the workplace and the penalties for failing to do so (Gov. Code, § 12940(k)).
Pursuant to § 11023(b) of the Act, employers shall provide employees a workplace free from prohibited employment practices. In order to maintain a workplace free of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, the Department’s DFEH-185 brochure on sexual harassment, or its equivalent, shall be distributed to all employees. Additionally, a written prevention policy on harassment, discrimination, and retaliation shall be developed to include information on prohibited conduct, protected categories, a proper complaint procedure (which ensures employee confidentiality, timely response to complaints, impartial and timely investigations by qualified personnel, documentation and tracking for reasonable progress, appropriate options for remedial actions and resolutions, and timely closures), and makes clear that employees shall not be retaliated against for lodging a complaint or participating in an investigation.
Employers shall disseminate said written policies to all employees by one or more of the following methods:
- providing a printed copy with an acknowledgment form to which employee shall sign and return;
- sending via email with an acknowledgment form to which employee shall sign and return;
- posting on a company intranet with a tracking system to ensure all employees have read and acknowledged receipt of the policies;
- discussing policies upon hire and/or during a new hire orientation session; and/or
- any alternative method which ensures employees receive and understand the policies.
The written policy shall be provided in English and any language that is spoken by at least ten percent of the workforce.
The Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH) may independently seek non-monetary preventative remedies for a violation of Gov. Code, § 12940(k), regardless of whether it prevails or fails on an underlying claim of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation (Code Regs. title 2, § 11023(a)(3)).
Stay in compliance by issuing the sexual harassment pamphlets to employees. Osha4less also offers workplace harassment prevention training options that meet federal and state requirements and can help your organization achieve a respectful work environment free from harassment and discrimination.