California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in the workplace. Recent amendments to FEHA’s implementing regulations issued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing include significant new obligations for employers, and clarify a range of important issues.

The amendments take effect on April 1, 2016. The full text of the amended regulations can be found here. We summarize below some of the more significant provisions.
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California’s new Fair Pay Act amends existing law to enact what is widely being considered as the most stringent equal pay law in the country.  The Fair Pay Act will amend existing law in a number of significant ways, making it easier for employees to bring equal pay suits against their employers.  Under previous law, an employee had to show that he or she was being paid less than an opposite sex colleague who was performing “equal work.”  The new law will allow employees to compare their pay with colleagues who hold different, but “similar” positions, regardless of job title. It goes into effect January 1, 2016.
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California employers, take note: On October 9, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 622, a bill that prohibits California employers from using the federal E-Verify system for most current employees and applicants.

The E-Verify system, administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows employers across the country to confirm that applicants and employees are authorized to work in the United States. The agency boasts that E-Verify is used nationwide by more than 600,000 employers, and is the only free online service to verify employee data against millions of government records within seconds. California’s new law creates strict rules regarding employers’ use of the E-Verify system to prevent discrimination in employment.
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Managers who are trying to do employees a good turn may find themselves in an unwanted predicament, if the EEOC ever winds up getting involved.

Most of us know that disability claims are a primary focus for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And with the ADA’s 25th anniversary last month, the focus is even more heightened. But what may come as a surprise to some is the EEOC’s highly aggressive stance when it comes to accommodating disabled employees. 
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Just a few days ago Alex Galvan posted on our blog about the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) mission to expand Title VII’s protections to LGBT employees. As if on cue, the EEOC has now taken another next step towards completing its mission.  Last week, in a 3-2 decision, the EEOC held that Title VII prohibits employers from treating an applicant or employee differently on the basis of their sexual orientation because “sexual orientation is inseparable from an inescapably linked to sex” and as a result “[s]exual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination.” 
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While much of the recent focus in the LGBT rights arena has been on same-sex marriage—especially in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell—employers should keep a close eye on the growing protections being afforded LGBT employees.

To those who argue that LGBT employees are not protected by Title VII on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has a simple, monosyllabic response: Sex.
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Employment law loomed large on the Supreme Court’s docket this term. In seven highly anticipated cases, the Court interpreted federal employment statutes from Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to FLSA and ERISA.

While employers received favorable rulings in some cases, the Court’s decisions regarding religious discrimination and the accommodation of pregnant workers could impact employers’ current practices and policies. Employers should review hiring, accommodation, and other policies—even those that are facially neutral—to ensure compliance with the Court’s recent holdings.
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On April 2, 2015, following the controversy stemming from the recent signing of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (IRFRA), Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law an amendment to the IRFRA. The amendment states that the Act may not be used to discriminate in the providing of services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service. The IRFRA and its amendment go into effect on July 1, 2015.

For the first time in Indiana, the amended IRFRA will provide explicit protection to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although several municipalities (such as Indianapolis) have passed local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Indiana Civil Rights Law does not currently provide this protection. The amendment to the IRFRA could signal the coming of broader protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Indiana.
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s March 25, 2015 decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. brings some clarity to the issue of whether and when employers are required to provide work-related accommodations to pregnant employees.

As employers well know, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against an employee with respect to terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of, among other characteristics, the employee’s sex. In 1978, Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which clarified that unlawful sex discrimination includes discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act further provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes… as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work…” Id. In Young, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether this latter provision requires an employer to provide light-duty assignments as an accommodation to pregnant employees (who have been placed on medical restrictions as a result of their pregnancy), if the employer provides light duty assignments as an accommodation to some, but not all, other employees.
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