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CA law provides extra protections for workplace discrimination

Given the prevalence of claims of illegal workplace discrimination in California and across the U.S., it is no surprise that attempts are being made to clarify the law and provide additional protections to workers. With that in mind, a new law related to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act has instituted the need to have a formal policy to prevent employees from being subjected to discrimination and harassment. On April 1, the new law went into effect. There are certain requirements that must be adhered to in order to be in compliance.

Employers are now required to have policies against discrimination and harassment that have the following hallmarks -- they are in writing, the categories of individuals who are protected by the law are listed, it is clear that coworkers, third parties, managers and supervisors are not allowed to discriminate, harass or retaliate, there is a process for complaints to be lodged, workers have a mechanism such as hotline for complaints, supervisors are told to report complaints linked to misconduct to a representative of the company to deal with it internally, it is made clear that there will be a full investigation into allegations of misconduct, there will be an assertion that there will be confidentiality, workers are informed that if there is misconduct proven, there will be appropriate measures taken and the company will provide protection for retaliation for a complaint.

Employees must be given a copy of the policies in some form. The policies must be posted on the company's website and have a tracking system to make certain that the employees have read and received the policies. When a new person is hired, these policies must be elucidated. When there are workforces with a minimum of 10 percent of workers who are not native speakers of English, they must have the policies provided to them in their particular language.

Since these new laws have been put in place, it is meant to accord new protections to workers and have a process of oversight in the event that any kind of complaint is made. While this is a good step to help protect employees, it unfortunately does not mean that all companies will comply, nor does it mean that harassing or discriminatory behaviors will stop. Workers need to be fully cognizant of their employee rights. If any illegal acts have occurred, speaking to a legal professional experienced in helping clients with a lawsuit for discrimination is important.

Source: Central Valley Business Journal, "New law requires business to have anti-discrimination policies," Bruce Sarchet, April 19, 2016