As a loyal reader of our CalPecs Blog, you know that last year’s Senate Bill 1038 eliminated the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, including its administrative adjudication of FEHA claims. The bill created a Fair Employment and Housing Council, to perform the former Commission’s regulatory functions.
Is the Council a new and improved “FEHC”? Time will tell, but we got our first peek when we attended the Council’s very first meeting on Monday, June 18.
Here’s a brief summary of the proceedings:
Swearing In: The councilmembers Governor Brown appointed to serve until January 1, 2017 were sworn in: Chair Chaya Mandelbaum, Dale Brodsky, Chanée Franklin Minor, Patricia Perez, and Andrew Schneiderman.
- Increased numbers of Complaints have been filed through the DFEH’s new online complaint filing system, and pursued by the DFEH;
- Disability discrimination complaints are currently the most common, followed by retaliation, race, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment (precise statistics on this and the above to be posted on www.dfeh.ca.gov);
- Some pending legislation that would amend the FEHA in various respects:
◊ AB 556 — addressing discrimination toward veterans and members of the armed services;
◊ SB 292 — to clarify that sexual harassment does not require proof of sexual desire under FEHA;
◊ SB 404 — to add “familial status” as a protected characteristic; and
◊ SB 655 — to modify the California Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. City of Santa Monica, by defining what a “substantial factor” is in a “mixed-motive” defense action, and providing a statutory penalty of $25,000 if a plaintiff proves that a protected characteristic was a substantial factor in the adverse employment action.
More on these bills and others in upcoming Legislative Update blogs.
Substantive Regulatory Changes to Come?
- The Council has formed subcommittees to craft proposals for substantive changes to the FEHA implementing regulations in the areas of the California Family Rights Act (the CA analog to the FMLA) and hate crimes, in addition to other broad housing and employment topics.
- Each councilmember volunteered to serve on at least two subcommittees, and all members will evaluate any proposed changes. Any proposed changes to the Regulations that are substantive in nature will follow the formal rulemaking process.
We’ll continue to follow the new FEHC’s activities to keep you informed of developments.
Special thanks to Seyfarth Summer Diversity Fellow Dia Kirby for her assistance with this blog entry.