California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Releases New Workplace Harassment Guide For Employers

In May, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) released a Workplace Harassment Guide. The new step-by-step guide, available here, provides employers with specific recommended practices to prevent harassment in the workplace, to respond employee complaints of harassment, and to conduct a fair investigation of the employee’s complaint. Prepared by DFEH’s California Sexual Harassment Task Force, this guide gives employers helpful, practical guidance and steps to comply with employers’ legal obligations to prevent and address workplace harassment.

This guide also complies with the new Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) regulations on workplace harassment that went into effect in 2016. These regulations, available here, which required employers to distribute the DFEH- 185 brochure (available here) on sexual harassment to employees, now also require employers to prepare and distribute written anti-discrimination and harassment policies to all employees via hard copy, email, or the company intranet site, with an acknowledgment for for employees to sign, or by discussing the policy with a new employee upon hire or during a new hire orientation session. The written policy must list all the protected characteristics of individuals on which basis it is unlawful to discriminate or harass: race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age for individuals over forty years of age, military and veteran status, and sexual orientation.

Among other requirements, the new regulations also require employers to create an internal complaint process to ensure that complaints of harassment receive: (a) confidential treatment, to the extent possible; (b) timely responses; (c) timely and impartial  investigations by qualified personnel; (d) documentation and tracking of progress; (e) appropriate remedial actions; and (f) timely closure. Notably, the regulations also mandate the employer to provide a complaint mechanism that enables an employee to complain to someone other than his or her immediate supervisor, such as a human resources manager, EEO officer, other designated company representative, or complaint hotline. The employer’s policy must clarify that employee will not be subjected to retaliation as a result of lodging a complaint or participating in an investigation. Furthermore, employers must translate and issue their anti-discrimination and harassment policies in each non-English language spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce at any facility.

If they have not already done so, employers must review and update their anti-discrimination and harassment policies in light of California’s new regulations, distribute their policies (and the DFEH- 185 brochure), ensure proper complaint and investigation procedures are in place, and train their supervisors and human resources personnel on how to respond to complaints.

The new workplace harassment guide will help employers navigate and comply with California’s new regulations on workplace harassment. Along with this guide, the DFEH has updated its DFEH- 185 brochure and corresponding poster.  These significant measures by the DFEH go a long way to help California employers correct and prevent harassment in the workplace and comply with the law.

About Cabada & Hameed LLP

Cabada & Hameed LLP is a law firm serving the greater Southern California region. Formed by “big firm” veterans in 2009, the firm offers exceptional legal representation with experienced attorneys handling Labor & Employment and Business Litigation matters. Partners and co-founders Francisco Cabada and Sayema Hameed bring nearly two decades of legal experience to every matter and ensure that clients receive individualized counsel, around-the-clock availability, the utmost discretion and maintenance of the highest professional and ethical standards. For more information, please visit the website

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