New California regulations declaring that “[e]mployers have an affirmative duty to create a workplace environment that is free from employment practices prohibited by” the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and that “[e]mployers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discriminatory and harassing conduct” will go into effect on April 1, 2016.
Among other requirements, the new regulations (2 CCR § 11023) provide that employers must have a written policy against unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace. In addition, the written policy must clearly state that unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation by supervisors, managers and coworkers, as well as by third-parties (e.g., vendors and customers), is prohibited.
Further, employers are required to establish a confidential complaint process and ensure investigations are conducted by qualified personnel in an impartial and timely manner.
Employers must provide employees with a copy of the written policy. If an employer’s workforce at any facility or establishment contains at least 10 percent of persons who speak a language other than English as their spoken language, then the policy must be translated into every language that is spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce. Employees may be asked to acknowledge receipt of the policy.
Employers should consult with employment counsel to determine whether and how their particular policies are affected by the new regulation and ensure they are in compliance.