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FEHA's requirements for employers to prevent discrimination and harassment

Last updated: May 3, 2023

California employers face significant legal obligations when it comes to preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a law that provides protection to employees from discrimination and harassment based on certain characteristics, such as race, gender, disability or other protected classifications. Employers must take specific steps to ensure these protections are enforced throughout their workplaces.

This article will provide an overview of FEHA's requirements for employers to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

FEHA's Requirements For Employers To Prevent Discrimination And Harassment

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is California’s main law protecting employees from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. It applies to employers with five or more full-time equivalent employees, as well as state agencies and political subdivisions of the state.

Under FEHA, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, sex (including pregnancy), age (over 40 years old), gender identity/expression or sexual orientation. Employers are also forbidden from retaliating against an employee who has complained about discrimination or filed a charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

To prevent discrimination and harassment under FEHA, employers must adhere to several requirements. These include having anti-discrimination policies in place; providing training sessions that properly educate staff on preventing discrimination; promptly investigating complaints; and taking appropriate corrective action when necessary. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in significant penalties for the employer.

Prohibited Conduct In The Workplace

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) sets forth an array of requirements for employers to protect California workers from discrimination and harassment. Employers must take proactive steps to ensure compliance with FEHA's prohibitions against unlawful employment practices, as well as other applicable state and federal laws concerning workplace conduct. Through sound policies, procedures, training programs, and discipline measures, employers can help prevent the occurrence of prohibited behavior in their workplaces.

To avoid liability under FEHA, employers should provide a safe work environment free of any unacceptable conduct or language based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry disability, marital status, age, medical condition, genetic information military or veteran status. These legally protected categories are referred to as “protected characteristics” under FEHA's requirements for employers to prevent discrimination and harassment.

Employers may also be liable for acts of non-employees, such as customers or vendors if they know about them but fail to take corrective action. Employees must understand what constitutes illegal discrimination and harassment so that everyone at the workplace can feel secure in their working environment.

Likewise, supervisors need to receive appropriate education regarding how best to respond when such incidents occur. By proactively addressing discriminatory actions in the workplace before they escalate into serious problems, all parties benefit; companies will have fewer issues stemming from discrimination while employees will appreciate being given equal opportunity and respect in their job duties.

Responsibilities For Employers And Supervisors

In California, employers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that their workplace is free from discrimination and harassment. Employers must provide information about the state’s anti-discrimination laws to all employees during onboarding.

Additionally, they are required to post written notices of these laws in prominent places where employees can easily access them. The employer must also investigate any complaints or reports of discrimination or harassment promptly and thoroughly, taking corrective action if needed.

Furthermore, it is essential for employers to create an environment in which workers feel comfortable speaking up without fear of retaliation. This includes providing training on how to identify and prevent risks of discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

Finally, employers should also consider implementing policies such as zero tolerance rules against discriminatory behavior, regular monitoring of employee conduct, and frequent reviews of company procedures related to preventing discrimination and harassment.

Remedies For Victims Of Discrimination And Harassment

In California, employers are obligated to ensure that their workplace is free from discrimination and harassment. As such, there are certain remedies for victims of discrimination and harassment. These include filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), engaging in mediation through DFEH, or initiating litigation against the employer.

When an employee files a charge of discrimination or harassment with either DFEH or EEOC, they will be assigned a caseworker who will investigate the case and determine whether any action needs to be taken. If further investigation reveals unlawful conduct on behalf of the employer, then it may result in disciplinary action including fines, back pay awards, compensatory damages, attorney's fees, job reinstatement/promotion opportunities, etc., depending on the severity of the violation. Additionally, if necessary, employers may also implement preventative measures such as policy changes and diversity training programs to reduce future occurrences of discriminatory behavior within their company.

Ensuring Compliance With The California Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA)

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) serves to protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. To this end, employers must understand their legal obligations under FEHA and take measures to ensure compliance with its provisions. As such, FEHA's requirements for employers to prevent discrimination and harassment should be taken seriously by all employers operating within the state in order to create positive working environments for everyone involved.

Employers who fail to meet these obligations could face significant penalties including fines and other disciplinary actions depending upon the situation at hand. Taking proactive steps towards preventing discriminatory or harassing behaviors will ultimately help foster healthy workplaces that respect diversity and promote equality throughout California's workforce.

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Zoey Appleton
Zoey has worked with Cheri for years and has been creating the best articles not only for Disability Help but for our readers. Her job hits close to home for she has a brother with special needs. She hopes to see science and technology pave the way for a better life, with Disability Help to cover it and share it with those that need it.
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