Effective January 1, 2020, employees have three years to file complaints regarding sexual harassment.
New sexual harassment laws now impose additional requirements on employers and make it easier for employees to file claims for sexual harassment. Prior to the change in law, a person claiming to have been sexually harassed was required to file an administrative charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within one year from the date upon which the harassment occurred.
Assembly Bill 9 expands the time period for filing with the DFEH, allowing a person claiming sexual harassment up to three years to file their administrative charge. This potentially makes the defense of such claims more difficult for employers, as memories will have faded and witnesses may be unavailable. The law is unclear as to whether persons who experienced sexual harassment in the one year period prior to January 1, 2020 will have one year or three years in which to file a claim.
Discrimination based on hair texture and protected hair styles is prohibited as of January 1, 2020.
Senate Bill 188 expands the definition of race under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include “traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles,” including “braids, locks, and twists.”
Employers face additional lactation accommodation requirements as of January 1, 2020.
The New Year also brings new requirements for employers with respect to lactation accommodations. Employers are now required to give employees break time each time an employee needs to express milk. This is an important change, as an employer that fails to provide the break will have to pay the employee an additional hour of pay for each break missed. The new law also imposes stricter requirements related to lactation rooms. In addition, employers are required to develop and implement lactation accommodation policies that include an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation, the process by which such request is made, the employer’s obligation to respond to the request, and information about an employee’s right to file a complaint for any violation.
New sexual harassment prevention training postponed until 2021.
Employers caught a break regarding a new sexual harassment prevention training requirement. Employers with five or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by January 1, 2021 – a year later than the originally proposed 2020 date. Supervisory employees are required to undergo two hours of the training, while non-supervisory employees must complete one hour.