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California: Changes to the Fair Employment and Housing Act go into effect

January 1, 2019

On September 30, 2018, Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 1300. The new law makes the following changes to the Fair Employment and Housing Act:

  • Employers are now clearly liable for any unlawful harassment by non-employees. Previously, liability for non-employees only applied to sexual harassment. Non-employees include applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers or persons providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.
  • Except for a few exceptions, employers may not require or induce employees to release a claim or right under FEHA.
  • Except for a few exceptions, employers may not require employees to sign nondisparagement agreements that prevent the employee from disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace including sexual harassment.
  • Employers may provide employees bystander intervention training.
  • Authorizes courts to award prevailing parties in civil actions based on FEHA reasonable attorney’s fees and costs including expert witness fees. It restricts courts ability to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to prevailing defendants to when the court determines the action was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.

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January 1, 2019
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