Nicole Rice

Regulatory updates

By Nicole Rice, Policy Director, Government Relations

Capitol Update, March 18, 2016

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has recently issued numerous changes affecting key provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Below is a summary of those proposals. It is important for manufacturers to understand these new regulations in order to avoid inadvertent violations and potential liability.

FEHA Regulatory Changes Effective April 1st

The DFEH has released amendments to a number of regulations that will become effective on April 1, 2016. The updates bring FEHA into conformity with recent statutory and court decisions interpreting the law. The modifications cover a wide range of issues and include:

(1) Expanding the number of employers covered by FEHA;

(2) Requiring employers to develop new anti-discrimination and harassment policies that meet numerous new and detailed requirements;

(3) Requiring employers to distribute those policies to employees in English as well as in any additional languages that are spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce;

(4) Imposing new requirements for conducting discrimination and harassment training;

(5) Updating the definitions of “gender identity,” “gender expression” and “transgender” under FEHA;

(6) Extending FEHA protections against discrimination and harassment to unpaid interns and volunteers;

(7) Clarifies further an employer’s responsibility under pregnancy disability leave; and

(8) Implements a new rule that would allow DFEH to obtain “non-monetary preventative remedies” against an employer who fails to prevent discrimination or harassment, even if there is no evidence of underlying discrimination or harassment.

The FEHA prohibits harassment and discrimination based on protected classes and contains provisions relating to pregnancy disability leave.

Click here for details on the rulemaking.

DFEH Issues Guidance Regarding Transgender Employees

Last month, the DFEH issued new guidance to employers of transgender employees related to accessing gender-specific facilities. The guidance clarifies that transgender employees must be allowed to access restrooms, showers, locker rooms and other such facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

According to the news release, this guidance was issued in response to a 2011 lawsuit involving a transgender individual who had sought employment at American Pacific Corporation (AMPAC) in Sacramento and is consistent with an April 2015 decision of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under federal law and a June 2015 "Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers" published by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

For more information on the DFEH guidelines, click here.


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