Be Prepared for Calls from the DFEH Regarding Your Anti-Harassment Policies

Bruce’s Summary: A new process developed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) was implemented in April 2018. The DFEH now conducts random telephone interviews with employers about their anti-harassment and diversity policies. As the author indicates, this is an outgrowth of the DFEH’s Task Forces on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

The author gives a good overview for employers and HR Professionals of the questions they may receive from the DFEH and how to handle the process. Interview participation is not mandatory but whether or not an employer decides to participate they should prepare their frontline personnel to respond appropriately. Once the interview is conducted it might be very difficult to edit.

The author also shares a refresher on the importance of record keeping when providing different types of mandatory sexual harassment training for those employer’s with over 50 employees. The author further shares their thoughts for those employer’s with less than 50 employees. In today’s litigious climate relating to harassment, the first line of a good defense for employers is having training and policies in place and documented regardless of the organization’s size.

For Employers and HR Professionals, now is the time is to ensure their house is in order for responding to workplace harassment complaints. If there ever was a time to ensure both the “I”s are dotted and the “T”s are crossed in an employer’s training and policies, it’s now.

One note, in my experience, reference to regulatory type training on such subjects as anti-harassment training, more positive results were always achieved when the training was live and interactive.

In addition, employers must ensure that a clear recognition of neutrality of any investigation is paramount to the individuals involved, work environment and organization is to ensure the investigation is prompt, impartial and thorough. One clear signal of neutrality of the investigation, especially within the executive ranks, is the use of an outside neutral investigator. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.”

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