Your harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy must meet ten different requirements. Your policy must:
- Be in writing
- List all the protected categories covered under the FEHA (not just sex/gender, but race, religion, national origin, etc). You should also clearly describe the types of conduct that constitute harassment under state and federal laws.
- Indicate that the law prohibits supervisors, managers, co-workers and third parties with whom the employee comes into contact from engaging in prohibited conduct.
- Include a complainnt process. The process that you develop must ensure that complaints receive all of the following:
- A designation of confidentiality to the extent possible;
- A timely response;
- An impartial and timely investigation by qualified personnel;
- Documentation and tracking for reasonable progress;
- Appropriate options for remedial actions and resolutions; and
- Timely closure
- Make clear than an employee has the right to complain about harassment or participate in any workplace investigation without fear of retaliation.
- State that confidentiality will be kept by the employer to the extent possible. However, the policy should not indicate that the investigation will be kept completely confidential.
- Explain that the employee need not complain directly to his/her immediate supervisor and provide an alternative complaint mechansim, including but not limited to:
- Direct oral or written communication with a designated company representative, such as an HR manager, EEO officer, or other supervisor,
- A complaint hotline,
- Access to an ombudsperson; and/or
- Identification of the DFEH or the EEOC as additional avenues for lodging complaints.
- Instruct supervisors to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative (such as an HR manager) so that the company can try to resolve the claim internally.
- Explain your process for investigating all complaints of misconduct- harassment as well as other prohibited conduct. Indicate that you will conduct a fair, timely and thorough investigations that provides all parties appropriate due process and reaches reasonable conclusions based on the evidence collected.
- Include a statement that if misconduct is found at the end of the investigation, your company will take appropriate corrective and remedial measures (which can include discipline and other measures such as future training).
These are the minimum legal requirements for a written prevention policy under California law. In addition, it is a best practice for an employer’s harassment prevention policy to;
- Prohibit all conduct that is unprofessional (zero tolerance policy)
- Include an enforceable statement that the company’s rules prohibit this conduct regardles of whether the conduct amounts to a legal violation.