AN EMPLOYER’S GUIDE TO NEW 2011 LAWS PART V « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Employer’s Obligations to Prevent Discrimination and Other Unlawful Employment Practices

In a recent case before the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), paralegal Robin Williams alleged her former employer, Lyddan Law Group, was liable for hostile work environment harassment and discrimination on the bases of race, religion and sex.  She also asserted Lyddan retaliated against her because she protested these alleged wrongful acts.  Acting on her behalf, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) also alleged the employer failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination and harassment from occurring. DFEH v. Lyddan Law Group, FEHC Case No. E-200607-A-1082-01-rs.

In an October 2010 decision, the FEHC found the employer was not liable for the harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims but was responsible for failing to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent such discrimination and harassment.  The Commission found the employer did not have a written anti-harassment policy, did not conduct trainings for its managers or employees in harassment or discrimination prevention, and did not have an employee handbook.  Also, rather than conducting a neutral, independent investigation into Williams’ claims, the employer accused her of “slander.”

The decision serves as an important reminder for all employers to properly train supervisors and employees on preventing workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation and on how to properly respond to such allegations.