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Do your company policies violate California’s FEHA as well as federal laws prohibiting discrimination-harassment in employment?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Employer Defense

The protection of employee rights is one of the most important responsibilities of any California company. A critical aspect of this is the establishment and enforcement of policies that are fair, reasonable and legal. If your company has policies that violate California or federal labor laws, it could lead to lawsuits and other legal complications. It may be beneficial to seek a review of your current policies to determine if there are any issues that could present a challenge to your business in the future.

There are certain practices and policies that are not only unfair to employees, but they may also violate California employment laws. Many employment laws focus on the prevention of harassment and discrimination. It is possible that a company has existing policies or standard practices that are discriminatory in nature. Even if this was not the intent of the policy, employers are accountable for any type of infringement on employee rights.

Illegal policies according to the FEHA

California law not only offers the same protections to employees as federal law, its coverage is far more extensive than federal law.  California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“the FEHA”) prevents employers from illegal discrimination or harassment towards any employee on the basis of his or her race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, sex  including pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, mental and physical disability (including HIV/AIDS), medical conditions, including cancer, genetic characteristics, age (40 and above), denial of family and medical care leave, including claims for Workers Compensation benefits and denial of pregnancy disability leave, among other factors. It is also illegal to take retaliatory measures against an employee for reporting wrongdoing that might be considered a violation of the FEHA (purported retaliation claims). Examples of illegal practices and policies, that might violate both state and federal law prohibiting discrimination in employment include, without limitation:

  • Allowing discriminatory recruitment practices to influence hiring decisions
  • Discriminating against an applicant during the interview and screening process
  • Allowing gender, religion and other factors to play a role in promotion and advancement decisions
  • Paying certain employees less than others when they are doing the same work
  • Refusal to hold an employee’s job while he or she is out on FMLA (federal) or CFRA (California) leave
  • Refusal to provide reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee

While employers are prohibited from violating the rights of employees under California and/or federal law, employers are entitled to take steps that will allow them to shield the interests of their company. You can significantly benefit from understanding how to adhere to both California and federal laws while preventing unnecessary financial losses and complications.

The best interests of your company

It is in your best interests to know how to protect your company against the possibility of a lawsuit. A careful review of your standard practices can provide insight into how you can improve policies and eliminate aspects of your operations that may be construed as discriminatory. This can help you protect the rights of your employees and reduce the chance of legal complications.