As we’ve discussed before, new regulations from California’s Fair Employment & Housing Council take effect April 1, 2016. To be compliant, your company’s policy prohibiting harassment, discrimination, and retaliation needs to do the following:
- List all the categories currently protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, i.e., race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, and military or veteran status.
- State that the policy prohibits harassment by co-workers, supervisors, managers, and third parties with whom the employee comes into contact. (That’s basically everyone, isn’t it?)
- Provide confidentiality, to the extent possible, for complaints.
- Promise timeliness. This is a point of emphasis. The regulations require “a timely response,” “timely investigations,” and “timely closures.”
- State that investigations will be impartial and conducted by qualified personnel.
- State that investigations will be documented and tracked for reasonable progress.
- Provide “appropriate options for remedial actions and resolutions.”
- Designate personnel to receive complaints, while stating that employees are not required to complain to their immediate supervisors.
- Instruct supervisors whom to complain to.
- Indicate that the employer will conduct a fair, timely (there’s that word again!), and thorough investigation that provides all parties with appropriate due process and reaches a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.
- Indicate that, if misconduct is found, the employer will take appropriate remedial measures.
- Prohibit retaliation.
Harassment claims have been in the news a lot lately. The first line of defense is having a compliant policy in place. Not allowing your employees to ever interact with anyone may also be effective, but that doesn’t seem to work for many businesses.