Seyfarth Synopsis: Following a season of unprecedented outcry over persistent work-related sexual harassment, known best as the “#MeToo” movement, California lawmakers this session have considered a record number of bills that address the problem. One bill, AB 1867, recently passed by the Legislature and discussed below, will (if signed by the Governor) require large employers

Seyfarth Synopsis: Several bills of concern to California employers failed to receive the house of origin blessing and passage by the June 1 deadline, including this year’s attempts at PAGA reform, criminal history inquiries, and medical marijuana accommodations, while a boatload of others, most notably sexual harassment-related bills, sail on. The measures being passed to

Seyfarth Synopsis: Dominating this spring’s planting of proposed employment-related legislation are bills aimed at ending sexual harassment and promoting gender equity. Among the secondary crops are bills regarding accommodation, leave, criminal history, and wage and hour law. It threatens to be another bitter fall harvest for California’s employer community.

California legislators stormed into the second

Seyfarth Synopsis: The California Legislature has introduced a new bipartisan bill, AB 1870, that would give all employees—not just those claiming sexual harassment—three years to file DFEH complaints of unlawful discrimination, instead of the one year provided by current law.

More time to report discrimination

With the #MeToo movement sweeping the nation, California legislators are

Seyfarth Synopsis: As Californians grow tragically familiar with wildfire, California employers face another threat of fire in the form of defamation lawsuits. The rapidly burning #MeToo anti-harassment movement, and constant talk in the news about peoples’ reputations being destroyed, has rained down fire and fury for California employers forced to consider possible defamation lawsuits by

Seyfarth Synopsis: The natural inclination is to ignore attempts to dredge up claims of harassment that happened long ago. But no harassment claim is too old to investigate. Having strong anti-harassment policies and investigation procedures, along with a good work culture, can help employers avoid getting caught in the cross-fire of the “me-too” harassment dialogue.

Seyfarth Synopsis: Heeding some lessons from HBO’s Silicon Valley can help employers avoid mistakes related to potential hostile work environments and discrimination that might occur in a startup environment.

In a world where life often imitates art, startups can avoid perceived gender bias and sexual harassment in the workplace by learning from the

Seyfarth Synopsis: Employers in California: be aware and prepare for new laws increasing minimum wages and mandating overtime pay for agricultural employees; expanding the California Fair Pay Act to race and ethnicity and to address prior salary consideration; imposing new restrictions on background checks and gig economy workers; and more. Small employers will be relieved

It is not surprising that sparks may fly in the workplace, considering that most Americans spend more time at work than they do anywhere else. And as Valentine’s Day approaches, workplace romances are especially likely to flourish. Employers should be prepared to address issues that arise when Cupid’s arrow goes astray.

When Do Workplace Romances

By Shireen Husain, Kristina Launey, and Laura Maechtlen

In 2013, the Legislature made significant changes to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, including empowering the Department to file civil actions directly against employers, authorizing the award of attorneys’ fees to the Department, and creating the Fair Employment and Housing Council.

The Council has been feverishly proposing and enacting regulations pursuant to its new authority, including proposed amendments to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations.  If enacted, these amendments could mean substantial changes to your sexual harassment and discrimination policies and procedures.

What’s new?

Last Thursday, the Council met to consider amendments.  Currently before the Council is a proposed new section 11023, entitled Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Correction, which would require employers to develop  written sexual harassment and discrimination policies that:

  • Specifically address the liability of supervisors
  • Create a “confidential” complaint process (although employers should not promise that the investigation will be completely confidential)
  • Provide for complaints through channels other than the complaining employee’s direct supervisor
  • Designate a company representative to receive complaints and facilitate internal resolution of disputes
  • Provide for fair, timely, and thorough investigations of complaints and provides due process to all parties
  • Are provided to all employees with an acknowledgment return form or using a method that ensures employees receive and understand the policies
  • Are provided in every language that is spoken by at least 10% of the workforce

In addition, the amendments include a 2 year record retention requirement for all sexual harassment training materials, including sign in sheets and course materials.  Training must include information regarding potential employer and individual liability in civil actions and highlight supervisors’ obligations to report sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Important Highlights

While many of the proposed amendments do not substantively change the law, the changes may be an indication of the focus of the Council in 2014 and a good reminder of employer best practices.  Don’t forget:
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