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  • Glicel Sumagaysay

Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policies and Complaint Procedures Must be in Writing

California employers must distribute certain information to their employees regarding sexual harassment[1]. Additionally, effective April 1, 2016, employers with five or more employees must have written procedures designed to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation[2].

Among other things, these procedures must contain the following information: the categories of individuals protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act; and a statement that the Act prohibits harassment and discrimination by third parties, co-workers and supervisors. The complaint procedure should provide for complaints to non-harassers at the company or access to an ombudsman. Alternatively, it should state that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an avenue to lodge a complaint. The procedures should advise that the employer will timely investigate the complaint and take appropriate remedial measures if misconduct is found. They should also inform employees that the matter will be kept confidential to the extent possible. Further, the procedures must be properly disseminated. If 10% of the workforce consists of individuals who speak a language other than English, the procedures must be translated into the appropriate language for each such 10%.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing can seek non-monetary remedies against an employer in violation of this section, even if it does not prevail in proving the claimed harassment, discrimination or retaliation.

The EEOC received 26,396 sex discrimination charges and obtained $130.9 million in non-litigation monetary benefits in 2015[3].

[1]; Cal. Gov’t Code §§12940; 12950. California law protects all employees from harassment, regardless of how many employees the employer has.

[2] 2 CCR § 11023.

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