The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has recently revised the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations, which impact all employers in California with 5 or more employees.  These revisions go into effect on April 1, 2016, and impose new requirements on California employers in regards to combating harassment and discrimination in the workplace:


Mandatory Policy for Reporting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation


California employers with 5 or more employers are now required to have a detailed policy for reporting harassment and discrimination, which must be provided to all current and new employees.  This policy must be in written form, and must contain specific language in regards to complaint procedures, confidentiality, investigation procedures and remedies, protected classes, prohibited behaviors, and retaliation.  Employers must maintain records to confirm that each employee has received and understood this policy.


Additionally, if more than 10% of your workforce in any given location speaks a language other than English as a primary language, the employer must provide translations of the policy in those languages.


New Definitions for Several Protected Classes


The revised regulation also change the definitions for several protected classes, including the definitions for gender expression, gender identity, sex, sex stereotype, and transgender.


National Origin Protections for AB-60 Licenses


In January 2015, California implemented a new type of driver’s license called the AB-60 license.  This license is issued to California residents who are not U.S. citizens and who cannot prove legal immigration status in the United States.  The revisions to the FEHA now prevent an employer with 5 or more employees from discriminating against an individual for having an AB-60 license.


Please note that AB-60 licenses are still not valid documents for Form I-9 verification, regardless of the revisions to the FEHA.


Requesting Driver’s Licenses


The revisions to the regulations also limit the circumstances under which an employer may require an applicant or employee to hold or present a driver’s license.  Employer with 5 or more employees may only require applicants or employees to hold or present a driver’s license if (1) it is required by law or (2) it is required by the employer and is otherwise permitted by law.  Any employer policy must be uniformly applied and must be tied to a specific business reason, or a possible FEHA discrimination claim could arise.


Updated Employment Law Posting


Lastly, revisions to the California Pregnant Disability Leave program are being implemented as of April 1, 2016.  The new policy must be posted at the worksite, along with your other mandatory postings, starting on April 1, 2016.  The revised policy should not be posted before April 1, 2016.


Next Steps


California employers with 5 or more employees are now required to have anti-discrimination policy in place, which is distributed in written form to all employees by April 1, 2016.  Any existing anti- discrimination policy must be reviewed and updated to ensure the new FEHA requirements are met.  If you do not have an anti- discrimination policy, one needs to be created and distributed to your employees by April 1, 2016.


California employers with 5 or more employees should be reviewing their Equal Employment Opportunity policies, to ensure the proper definitions for protected classes are being used.


California employers with 5 or more employees should be reviewing their new hire policies regarding driver’s licenses and ensuring that any requests are uniformly applied and tied to specific business purposes.


California employers with 5 more or more employees should be getting ready to update their labor law postings on April 1, 2016, with the new California Pregnancy Disability Leave posting.  If you have a separate written policy for Pregnancy Disability Leave in any company handbooks or new hire documents, the policy should be reviewed to ensure compliance with the new law.


For assistance with reviewing or creating an anti-discrimination policy, for assistance with the new California Pregnancy Disability Leave posting, or for any questions regarding these new regulations, please contact Katie Spero at