New DFEH Workplace Harassment Guide for California Employers

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently issued a workplace harassment guide for California employers. The new guide which was developed in conjunction with the California Sexual Harassment Task Force, provides employers with best practices on preventing and addressing harassment in the workplace.

Employers Must Implement an Effective Workplace Anti-Harassment Program

The new DFEH harassment guide addresses harassment due to sex, gender and all other harassment based on protected characteristics as defined by California law. It requires your California employer to:

  • Distribute a written internal anti-harassment policy. The policy must include required components under 2 CCR §11023, be clear, easy to understand, and regularly discussed during meetings (e.g. every six months).
  • Hold your managers and supervisors to high standards. Managers and supervisors must be role models of appropriate workplace behavior and understand the policy fully. Workers in these management roles must attend mandatory two-hour training under California laws AB 1825 and AB 2053.
  • Ensure complaint handlers have specialized training. This will help those handling workplace harassment issues do so more effectively, while ensuring proper policies and procedures for responding to and investigating complaints are followed.
  • Conduct prompt and fair investigations. Your employer must promptly address your workplace harassment complaint and thoroughly investigate it. Doing so will assist in stopping the harassing behavior in its tracks.
  • Take prompt and fair remedial action. After an investigation concludes that there is proof of harassment and misconduct, your employer must take prompt, reasonable remedial action, even if the harassing behavior does not rise to the level of a policy violation or the law.

The DFEH also issued a revised harassment brochure (publication DFEH-185) that details California’s protections for employees who are facing sexual harassment at work. The publication lists steps that your employer is required to take to prevent and correct harassment, provides examples of harassing behaviors, and remedies available to employees. Your employer is required to distribute this brochure to all employees or hang a poster to fulfill their responsibilities under California law.

California Employment Law Prohibits Workplace Harassment

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects you and your coworkers from workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation due to protected characteristics such as sex and gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, religion, disability, and more. The FEHA requires your employer to “take reasonable steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace.”

If you are facing workplace harassment, or if your employer is not following required anti-harassment policies and procedures, contact our experienced California employment harassment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation.