New Guidance for Employers
The requirement for employers in California to take measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is nothing new – but there are new resources available from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to assist employers in their compliance with the laws.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced earlier this month the release of a guide for California employers regarding their obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent and correct workplace harassment. According to DFEH press release, the guide was developed in conjunction with the California Sexual Harassment Task Force, the guide is aimed at helping employers develop an effective anti-harassment program; know what to do and how to investigate reports of harassment; and understand what remedial measures they might pursue. The guide is relevant to addressing all forms of workplace harassment, including harassment based on sex.
“Preventing and correcting sexual harassment in the workplace is not only legally required, but it is one of the best ways that an employer can ensure a healthy and productive workplace for all employees,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “DFEH is pleased to provide these resources to help employers develop and implement effective polices.”
Under Government Code section 12950(b), employers are required to distribute information to their employees containing – at a minimum – components pertaining to:
- (1) The illegality of sexual harassment
- (2) The definition of sexual harassment under applicable state and federal law
- (3) A description of sexual harassment, utilizing examples
- (4) The internal complaint process of the employer available to the employee
- (5) The legal remedies and complaint process available through the department
- (6) Directions on how to contact the department
- (7) The protection against retaliation
To assist in compliance with the law, employers can obtain the recently revised brochure via the DFEH web site. The brochure (publication DFEH-185) describes the facts about sexual harassment; discusses the types of harassment prohibited by California law; provides examples of behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment; and specifies the procedures and policies California employers must develop and follow to prevent and correct sexual harassment. It also discusses remedies available in sexual harassment cases, including in cases of retaliation for complaining about harassment or rejecting advances.
DFEH has also provided this information in an easy-to-print poster form. According to DFEH, either the poster or the brochure fulfill an employer’s responsibility to provide employees an information sheet regarding sexual harassment under Section 12950(b) of the California Government Code.