Newly Adopted Employment Policies Are Required For California Small Businesses

Starting April 1, 2016, all California employers must develop and maintain a ‘harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy’. This policy must: (1) be written; (2) list all current protected categories covered under the Fair Employment and Housing Act; (3) state that the law prohibits coworkers, third parties, supervisors and managers from engaging in FEHA prohibited behavior; (4) create a confidential complaint procedure that ensures a timely response, impartial and fair investigation by ‘qualified’ personnel, appropriate due process, documentation, and tracking, and appropriate conclusions and remedial action, and timely closure; (5) ensure the complaint process allows employees the options of complaining to an individual or entity other than their immediate supervisor; (6) instruct supervisors to report all complaints of inappropriate conduct to a designated company representative; and (7) make clear that employees cannot be subject to retaliation as a result of lodging a complaint or participating in a workplace investigation.

Employers must also translate this policy into every language that is spoken by at least 10 percent of its employees. The best place to put this policy is generally in the employee handbook, but care must be taken to ensure the policy is properly drafted. All employers should ensure they comply with this new requirement, as failure to do so will very likely be used against the employer in any employment claim or litigation.

Notably, this law does not simply impose a duty on employers that have a certain number of employees. It imposes the duty on all employers regardless of the number of employees. Thus, employers with only one or two employees must comply with this new requirement.

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