California Sexual Harassment laws & HR compliance analysis

California Sexual Harassment: What you need to know

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against applicants, employees, or independent contractors based on marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sex discrimination includes harassment based on any of the protected characteristics. The law against harassment applies to all employers, regardless of size (CA Gov. Code Sec. 12940).
"Sex" defined. FEHA defines "sex" to include:
• Pregnancy or related medical conditions;
• Childbirth or related medical conditions;
• Breastfeeding or related medical conditions; and
• A person's gender
(CA Gov. Code Sec. 12926(r)).
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Definitions. The term "gender expression" is defined as a person's gender-related appearance and behavior, or the perception of such appearance or behavior, whether or not stereotypically associated with the employee's assigned sex at birth (CA Gov. Code Sec. 12926(r); 2 CA Code Regs. 11030). The term “gender identity” means each person’s internal understanding of his or her gender, or the perception of a person’s gender identity, which may include male, female, a combination of male and female, neither male nor female, a gender different from the person’s sex assigned at birth, or transgender (2 CA Code Regs. 11030).
Dress codes. It is unlawful for an employer to impose on an applicant or employee any physical appearance, grooming, or dress standard that is inconsistent with the individual’s gender identity or gender expression unless the employer can establish a business necessity (2 CA Code Regs. 11034). A “business necessity” is an overriding legitimate business purpose that makes a standard or practice necessary to the safe and efficient operation ...

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