California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations for 2016

California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations


California has long been known as the most employee-friendly state when it comes to employment laws and regulations. Indeed, California’s bi-annual sex harassment training law and its anti-discrimination laws are some of the most complex in the entire nation. California has revised its Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) regulations to include a host of new rules, all of which are in an effort to keep up with statutory changes in the past several years. Many of the changes modify existing requirements, but there are important new twists. The new rules go into effect on April 1, 2016.

The following paragraphs are a summary of the new rules. All employers with 5 or more employees should study the rules themselves to ensure effective implementation.

Among the provisions of the rules include the following:

  • The new regulations provide precise definitions of the following terms: gender expression, gender identity, sex stereotype, and transgender.

  • California has a new requirement that employers have a delineated policy to combat discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Companies must disseminate that policy to the entire workforce.
  • The regulations extend national-origin protections to undocumented immigrants who hold special “AB 60” drivers’ licenses.

The new regulations also provide guidance on what must be contained in the required policies targeted at preventing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Specifically, the regulations state that the policy should:

  • State that the employer will not take remedial action if any wrongdoing is detected.

  • State that the employer will not retaliate against an employee for making a complaint or participating in an investigation.
  • Instruct supervisors to report all complaints to a company representative.
  • List all protected groups under the Fair Employment & Housing Act.
  • Specify that supervisors, co-workers and third parties are prohibited from engaging in unlawful behavior under the FEHA.
  • Explain the reporting procedure under the policy.
  • State that all complaints will be followed by a fair and thorough investigation.

In addition to posting these new requirements in a public area at the workplace, an effective means of conveying these rules is implementing an online anti-discrimination training program that explains the policies and procedures in-depth so that your employees understand their obligations under the law. The FEHA is a complicated law that provides many protections to employees that are not available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to the mandatory California sex harassment training requirement that many companies in the state are required to follow, it is important for companies of all sizes to engage in active training programs to not only aid in compliance with these new regulations but to improve company culture as a whole.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes associated with employment law violations. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact for more information about our California employment discrimination courses for employees and management and remember to follow on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that  impact your company! 

2016 Brings New California Employment Discrimination Law Challenges

As 2015 comes to a close and we prepare to turn the calendar to 2016, employers must prepare for some important changes coming to California’s employment discrimination laws. This post will briefly cover two of the major changes to California’s discrimination and retaliation laws that prompt further training for your managers and employees in the coming year.

Protection for Family Members When an Employee Engages in a Protected Activity

Assembly Bill 1509 is effective January 1, 2016, and adds new protection for family members of employees who complain of discrimination or unsafe working conditions. This law is relevant to employers who employ multiple family members, or have client dealings wherein family members interact.

AB 1509 impacts management training directly, in that retaliation and discrimination training must cover situations where familial relationships cross over into the workplace. Many managers simply will not consider the fact that a refusal to deal with family members of an employee who has made a discrimination complaint will violate the law. In reality, AB 1509 can create liability for companies whose managers take these types of actions.

Protection from Retaliation Related to Disability or Religious-Belief Accommodation

Assembly Bill 987 (also effective January 1, 2016) prohibits employers from taking retaliatory or discriminatory action against those employees who request an accommodation for a disability or religious custom or observance, regardless of whether the accommodation was actually granted.

AB 987 has the practical effect of making a request for accommodation engagement in a protected activity, regardless of whether the request is granted or not. While this seems technical in nature, the application of this new law will have implications on retaliation and discrimination lawsuits in California, as many managers still believe that when a request is denied for good reason there can be no retaliation or discrimination. Managers need to be trained that policies must be revised to reflect that all employees making requests for accommodation must be treated equally.

As you can see, two seemingly minor changes in California discrimination law can have a major impact on the way the law will be applied. If it has been some time since your company has conducted California discrimination and harassment training , the beginning of 2016 could not be a better time to do so.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and associate litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact for more information about our prevention of discrimination in the workplace courses for management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your company!