California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race or color, religious creed, national origin or ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical condition), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, military and veteran status, and sexual orientation.
You are covered by FEHA if you:
Employ, or have employed, five or more individuals on a “regular basis” or “for any part of the day on which the unlawful conduct allegedly occurred.”
Are a public sector employer, regardless of the number of employees.
Regularly employ one or more people or regularly receive the services of one or more independent contractors (for harassment cases only).
In October 2019, the Fair Employment and Housing Council updated the FEHA regulations to clarify which employers are covered by the FEHA. The regulations explain that “‘regular basis’ refers to the nature of a business that is recurring, rather than constant.” To illustrate, the regulation provides an example of an industry with a three-month season, stating that if an employer employs five or more individuals during that season, then the employer “regularly employs” the requisite number of employees to be covered by the act. In other words, the FEHA may cover seasonal employers even if they do not have five employees working throughout the year, so long as five or more employees are on the payroll during the season.
You cannot, among other things:
- Refuse to hire, segregate or take adverse actions with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeship, discharge, discipline, tenure or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions), gender identity, gender expression or transgender, age, military and veterans status or sexual orientation. You also cannot take any type of adverse action because you perceive an employee has one of these protected characteristics.
- Engage in, or permit your employees or agents to engage in, harassment of any person of any protected class.
- Retaliate against an employee, applicant or independent contractor for opposing sexual harassment or other unlawful discrimination or for filing a complaint, testifying, assisting or participating in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under FEHA.
- Base any adverse employment decision in whole or in part on a person’s protected class status.
- Refuse to honor an otherwise eligible employee’s request for pregnancy disability leave or for leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
- Fail to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religion or disability, absent an undue hardship.
- Discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical condition, or fail to grant up to four months of pregnancy leave when an employee is unable to work due to pregnancy disability leave.
- Discriminate against an individual who is transitioning, has transitioned or is perceived to be transitioning.