Senate Bill 1300 Brings Major Changes to Discrimination and Other Claims
Enacted in 2018 and having gone into effect in January of 2019, California’s Senate Bill (SB) 1300 brings about several important changes to the law surrounding claims of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation that are brought pursuant to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Companies and businesses who are not aware of these changes may be caught off guard – and find themselves in serious legal trouble – if an employee believes he or she has been the target of unlawful treatment and files a claim against the company.
List of Major Changes Under SB 1300
The list below is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all the changes brought about by SB 1300. Rather, it is merely intended to highlight some of the more significant changes to the FEHA claims process. These changes include:
- Claimants no longer need to show a “severe or pervasive” work culture in order to prevail on a claim that an employer caused or permitted a hostile work environment to exist. Now, even a single instance of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may be sufficient for the claimant to prevail;
- Employers may be hurt by discriminatory statements made by other employees or workers – even if such remarks are not made in connection with any employment-related issue – as these statements can now be used as evidence of unlawful discrimination;
- SB 1300 sets forth an intention that FEHA claims survive summary judgment. In other words, SB 1300 will likely make it much more challenging for employers to have FEHA claims dismissed before trial; and
- An employer who is successful in defending itself against an FEHA claim will now be unable to recover its attorneys’ fees and the cost associated with any expert witnesses it consulted with or used unless a court finds the FEHA claim was completely baseless (“frivolous, unreasonable, or totally without foundation”).
Other Changes Brought About By SB 1300
Not only this, but SB 1300 will prohibit employers from attempting to make use of any sort of non-disclosure agreement, confidentiality agreement, or any similar contract or agreement to limit an employee’s right to report or talk about illegal workplace activities. Additionally, SB 1300 does not permit employers to condition a bonus or other employment-related “perk” (or employment in general) on an employee’s willingness to waive his or her rights under FEHA. Finally, SB 1300 allows employers to provide bystander intervention training to empower employees to identify and properly intervene if they witness discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
Find Out What Your Business Needs To Do In Light of SB 1300
Proactive and preventative action is always preferable to attempting to defend oneself and/or one’s business in an FEHA lawsuit. The Heit Law Group, P.C., is ready to discuss with you what changes your business may need to make as a result of SB 1300. Of course, the Heit Law Group, P.C. can also assist and intervene if you find yourself facing an FEHA claim. Let us help you: contact us at (310) 744-5227 or through our website, http://heitlawgroup.com.