What You Need to Know About California’s New DFEH Regulations

Effective April 1, 2016

Effective April 1, 2016, new regulations issued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) apply to employers subject to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). While these new regulations do not alter existing law, they were created to clarify already existing obligations of employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

These obligations include providing mandated AB 1825, AB 2053, and SB 292 training for all supervisory personnel. (Read and print our 2016 Compliance Checklist.)

Existing requirements
  • Prevent discrimination based on protected characteristics
  • Prohibit retaliation against participating in legally-protected activities
  • Interactively determine reasonable accommodations for disabilities (and to accommodate)
  • Post posters and distribute the DFEH-185 brochure (or equivalent)
  • Include instruction on the prevention of abusive conduct in AB 1825 supervisor training. (See Kantola’s harassment and discrimination training for managers/supervisors and employees in English and Spanish.)

New requirements for organizational policies
While company policies have long been recommended and are widely already in use, the new regulations now require a written policy against discrimination, harassment and retaliation:
  • Policies must be distributed so that all employees have access to them. This can be done by hard copy or by email, or posted on an intranet, with an acknowledgement form for employees to sign or other tracking system to make sure all employees have read and acknowledged them. Or they may be provided and discussed with new hires or during new-hire orientation sessions.
  • Policies must be distributed in English and other languages spoken by at least 10% of the workforce (for non-native speakers).
  • They must include a list of all current protected categories, including religion or religious creed, race, color, ethnic group identification, age (40 or over), national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, military and veteran status, and sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
  • They must state that supervisors, managers, coworkers and third parties are all covered by these prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and retaliatory conduct.
  • They must provide details about investigations that will be triggered by complaints.

New requirements for investigations
While these requirements have been considered “best practices” for quite some time, these regulations now formally require:
  • The organization’s complaint and investigation process must be outlined in the organization’s written policy and distributed to employees.
  • A complaint mechanism that provides additional avenues for complaint in addition to an employee’s immediate supervisor, such as another manager, ombudsperson or neutral investigator, or complaint hotline.
  • A process for responding to complaints that is confidential, timely, and impartial.
  • Confirmation that the employer will conduct a fair, timely and thorough investigation that provides everyone concerned with due process and reaches a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.
  • An investigation by qualified personnel, documented and tracked for reasonable progress; appropriate remedial actions and resolutions; and timely closure.
  • Instruction to supervisors to report complaints to a designated company representative (such as an HR director or manager) to attempt internal resolution. This instruction must also be included in mandated supervisor training. (See: Kantola’s California state-compliant manager/supervisor harassment training.)
  • A statement that confidentiality will be maintained as much as possible in response to all complaints, issues will be resolved, and appropriate remedial measures will be taken if misconduct has occurred.
  • Confirmation that employees who complain or participate in an investigation will not be retaliated against.

Compliance Training Resources
In California, to meet the requirements for AB 1825, AB 2053 and SB 292, training is mandatory for supervisory personnel in companies with 50 or more employees. This training must last a minimum of two hours.

Stand-alone two-hour eLearning that fulfills state requirements:

Video training that can be used as part of a two-hour training led by a qualified trainer to meet requirements:
It is also recommended as a "best practice" to train all non-supervisory employees, as well. (Use: Kantola's employee versions of these popular training programs.)

This overview is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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