Changes Effective April 1, 2016

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has released new final regulations, effective April 1, 2016, that address (among other things) pregnancy and sexual harassment under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

The FEHA prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment on the basis of certain protected classes, such as race, color, religion, disability, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and related medical conditions). The law generally applies to employers with 5 or more employees; however, the provisions regarding harassment apply to all employers.

New Provisions
Highlights of the new regulations include the following:

  • In addition to distributing the DFEH-185 brochure on sexual harassment (or an alternative writing that complies with Government Code section 12950), a covered employer must develop aharassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy that meets specific requirements (§ 11023).
  • New content standards for the abusive conduct component of the required sexual harassment training are included.
  • An employer must maintain and pay for group health coverage for an eligible female employee who takes pregnancy disability leave for the duration of the leave—not to exceed 4 months over the course of a 12-month period per pregnancy—beginning on the date the pregnancy disability leave begins, at the same level and under the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had not taken pregnancy disability leave.
  • A covered employer must post (and keep posted) notice of rights and obligations regarding pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions on its premises, in conspicuous places where employees are employed. The notice must explain the FEHA’s provisions andprovide information about how to contact the DFEH to file a complaint and learn more about rights and obligations under the law.
  • If the employer publishes an employee handbook that describes other kinds of reasonable accommodation, transfers, or temporary disability leaves available to its employees, that employer must include a description of reasonable accommodation, transfer, and pregnancy disability leave in the next edition of its handbook that it publishes following adoption of the regulations. In the alternative, the employer may distribute to its employees a copy of its notice (described above) at least annually.

Employers are advised to read the regulations in their entirety for additional changes and details.


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