Category Archives: FEHA

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2020 Vision: California’s New Employment Laws

To close out the 2019 legislative season, Governor Gavin Newsom signed dozens of bills into law, which will have lasting impacts for California employers. In addition to the summaries and clarifications from prior blog posts, below is an overview of key new employment laws.… Continue Reading

It’s Official: Newsom Expands The Definition of “Employee” Under California Law

On September 18 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB-5, which codified the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex v. Superior Court decision.  In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test to determine coverage under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders.  AB-5 expands the application of the ABC test to the entire … Continue Reading

Three Major Workplace Bills to Land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk

Following the launch of the so-called “MeToo” movement, the California Legislature (controlled by a Democratic supermajority) has aggressively churned out new bills that further strengthen the ability for workers to sue their employers and increase the already-significant regulatory burden on these companies. This fall, the California Legislature is geared to send three significant bills to … Continue Reading

A Heads Up On The CROWN Act: Employees’ Natural Hairstyles Now Protected

On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 188 also known as the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.  The CROWN Act amends the California Education Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, including hair … Continue Reading

California Employers – New Year, New Rules in 2017

The new year will bring along a variety of new obligations for California employers.  Although some of the new laws clarify existing law and provide helpful guidance, several impose additional requirements.  This update highlights key provisions of some of the more notable changes taking effect in 2017.  Links to the statutes and/or prior updates regarding … Continue Reading

California Employers: Get Ready for New FEHC Regulations Effective April 1st

As most California employers know, the complex web of laws that govern employment in the state is vast and ever-expanding.  It just got more complicated.  The Fair Employment and Housing Council (“FEHC”) has issued new anti-discrimination and anti-harassment regulations that most California employers must comply with.  The new regulations will go into effect April 1, … Continue Reading

New Year, New Rules For Employers Doing Business in California

This year the California Legislature added over a dozen new employment laws, many of which take effect on January 1, 2016.  Some of these laws impose new prohibitions on employers, while others provide positive benefits such as safe harbors, cure provisions, and employer incentives for reclassification of certain independent contractors.  This update highlights key provisions … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Makes It Harder For Prevailing FEHA Defendants To Recover Their Costs

Under section 1032(b) of the California Code of Civil Procedure, “a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding” unless some statute expressly says otherwise.  It has been California’s rule for over a decade that this provision allowed victorious defendants in cases under the Fair Employment … Continue Reading

California Makes Anti-Bullying Training A Component Of Mandatory Harassment Training

California employers with more than 50 employees must include “abusive conduct” prevention training in their mandatory harassment prevention training.  Assembly Bill No. 2053 expanded the scope of training required by Government Code Section 12950.1, which requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of harassment prevention training to supervisory employees … Continue Reading

Undocumented Workers May Pursue Claims Under California’s FEHA, So Says The California Supreme Court

On June 26, 2014, in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., the California Supreme Court held that undocumented immigrants who fraudulently obtained employment still may pursue retaliation and discrimination claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  In its decision, the Court also found that the affirmative defenses of unclean hands and after‑acquired evidence, … Continue Reading

In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s Harris Decision, A FEHA Claimant Must Show Discrimination was a “Substantial Motivating Factor” and An Employer Waives its Mixed-Motive Defense by Failing to Assert It in Its Answer

It now should be clear to employers in California that the litigation rules are different as to what must be presented in discrimination lawsuits to succeed. Notably, just last week, in Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corp., B230909 (2nd Dist., Div. 7, Sept. 5, 2013), the California Court of Appeal held that the former versions … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds That Proof That Employer Would Have Made Same Employment Decision Absent Discrimination Precludes Award Of Damages, Backpay, Or Reinstatement

By Melanie Hamilton  On February 7, 2013, the California Supreme Court held that where a plaintiff proves that unlawful discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") was a substantial factor motivating her termination, but the employer proves that it would have made the same employment decision absent such discrimination, the plaintiff … Continue Reading

A Workers’ Compensation Rating Of 100% Disabled Does Not Relieve An Employer Of Its Obligations Under The ADA And FEHA

Cuiellette v. City of Los Angeles (April 22, 2011) cautions employers that when an employee has been rated as 100% disabled for workers’ compensation purposes, the employer is not relieved of its duties under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Practically speaking, a workers’ compensation rating, even as … Continue Reading

Court Says Okay to Terminate Bipolar Employee Who Threatened Coworkers

Before filing suit under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), an employee must exhaust her administrative remedies with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH"). In the recently decided case of Wills v. Superior Court, the court gave little leeway to an employee, finding that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies … Continue Reading

A Company’s Shifting Reasons For An Employment Decision Can Hurt The Company’s Defense

A San Diego federal district court recently provided guidance on what constitutes an "adverse employment action" and how an employer’s shifting reasons for its actions may affect a discrimination case. In Coyne v. County of San Diego, the plaintiff, an employee, sued her employer for discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII and the … Continue Reading

H1N1 Virus and the Workplace: Will this Year’s Flu Cause a Headache for Employers Too?

Flu season is upon us. With the recent outbreak of the H1N1 Virus ("Swine Flu") as well as the ever-present seasonal flu, employers must face increased absenteeism by their employees. Much like the regular flu, H1N1 causes fever, sore throat, nausea and fatigue. However, this particular strain of illness is predicted to be particularly dangerous … Continue Reading

Unsubstantiated Concerns Ruled Pregnancy Discrimination – A Cautionary Tale

The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a decision by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission ("FEHC") finding that an employer discriminated against a pregnant employee in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. In SASCO Electric v. FEHC, an extremely experienced female who served as a second captain of a yacht was terminated … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal: Employee Can Sue For Disability Bias Despite Absence Of Medical Evidence And Absence Of Any Explicit Request For An Accommodation

A California Court of Appeal has ruled that an employee who used a company-provided scooter to move around a factory can sue for disability bias after the scooter broke and was not replaced by the employer.  This despite the fact that there was no medical evidence of disability, the employee worked for six months without … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules That An Employer Must Notify Its Insurer Of A Potential Claim Upon Receiving A Demand Letter From Counsel

The Second Circuit’s ruling in Westrec Marina Management v. Arrowood Indemnity Co. is a warning to employers to report potential claims to their insurance carrier as soon as possible or face denial of coverage.  In Westrec, an employee filed a charge of discrimination against Westrec with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Confirms That Plaintiff Claiming Disability Discrimination Under FEHA Must Show Qualification for Position

The California Supreme Court today issued a 4-3 decision in the case of Green v. State of California, resolving a split in authority regarding the burden of proof in disability discrimination cases under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (the "FEHA"). It is now settled that a plaintiff alleging disability discrimination under the FEHA must … Continue Reading
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