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Changes come to California discrimination law

California is expanding its requirements for training its workforce to avoid and prevent sexual harassment. Companies must now adapt not only to stay on the forefront of social progress but to stay in compliance with the law.

Large companies were previously required to train full-time employees on new policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. This requirement now extends to mid-size businesses, with 50 or more full-time employees.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Council offers some helpful definitions to help define these issues. Trainers will want to ensure that they keep the training on track through some difficult issues to face.

Human resources specialists will also be required to cover the company's overall harassment prevention program. This includes any reporting, investigation and nonretaliation policies and practices to protect those who report inappropriate behavior.

These policies must address the 17 different protected characteristics recognized by California law. At least 12 of these characteristics are universal, making the prevention of discrimination a matter important to everybody.

The Golden State expressly prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, religious creed, marital status, genetic characteristics, ancestry, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, military/veteran status and age.

Those who feel their body, mind or career were affected by discrimination or inappropriate behavior based on any of these attributes has a case for financial damages, reimbursement for lost wages or reinstatement to a lost job. An attorney can help weigh these options and protect your rights.

Source: Lexology, "How to Comply With California’s New Requirement to Provide Anti-Harassment Training on Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation," Oct. 18, 2017

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