State Assists Employers With New Sample EEO Policy
California law requires employers to develop and distribute to employees a written policy about the prevention of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. The California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) is the state agency that enforces California’s civil rights laws.
Recently, the DFEH issued a sample Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for employers to use to develop workplace-specific equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies. In releasing the sample policy, DFEH Director Kevin Kish stated, “While the law requires employers to develop a detailed EEO policy, hundreds of thousands of California employers do not have easy access to legal counsel. That should not be a barrier to the development and use of a clear anti-discrimination policy in every workplace, and DFEH is pleased to provide this resource to help employers develop and implement effective policies.”
The mandatory components of an EEO policy are listed in the California Code of Regulations at 2 CCR § 11023 and include a description of legal categories, a legally compliant process, instructions for supervisors, and the identification of DFEH and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as additional avenues for employees to lodge complaints.
The sample policy describes the joint responsibilities of employers, supervisors and managers, and all employees to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and to promptly report conduct that they believe violates the policy. In addition, the policy outlines specific rights of employees and employment applicants, including:
- The right to file a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Employees are encouraged to report inappropriate conduct immediately and, whenever possible, to put the complaint or concern in writing.
- The right to a full, impartial and prompt investigation by an employer representative or designee into allegations of conduct that would violate this policy.
- The right to be timely informed of appropriate information related to the outcome of an investigation either as a complainant or a respondent in the investigation.
- The right to be represented by a person of the complainant’s choosing at each and all steps of the complaint process.
- The right to be free from retaliation or reprisal after filing a complaint or participating in the complaint process.
- The right to file a complaint directly with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other appropriate state or federal agencies, or to file a civil action in the appropriate court.
Maintaining and consistently enforcing an equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy is also a key risk management best practice for employers to defend employment practices liability claims. Our Keenan Briefing includes the DFEH’s full sample policy. Versions of the EEO policy in Word and PDF formats can also be found at the DFEH website.