New Harassment & Discrimination Policy Requirements

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By Amy Angel & Makayla Halkinrude-Allmaras
Barran Law,

Effective October 1, 2020, the Workplace Fairness Act requires employers to adopt a written policy containing procedures and practices to reduce and prevent covered discrimination and sexual assault.

The policy must:

  • Provide a process for employees to report prohibited conduct;
  • Identify an individual or position designated by the employer (and an alternate) who is responsible for receiving reports of prohibited conduct;
  • Include the applicable statute of limitations period to an employee’s right of action for alleging unlawful conduct;
  • Include a statement that an employer may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement, including a description of the meaning of those terms;
  • Include an explanation that an employee claiming to be aggrieved by covered discrimination may voluntarily request to enter into an agreement that contains a nondisclosure, nondisparagement, or no-rehire provision and that the employee would have at least seven days to revoke the agreement; and
  • Include a statement advising employers and employees to document any incidents involving covered discrimination or sexual assault.

The Bureau of Labor and Industry recently issued a template policy. Employers may use this template, but we highly recommend creating a policy specifically tailored to each company that both meets the legal requirements and sets the company’s expectations, processes, and procedures.

Beginning October 1, 2020, employers must:

  • Make their policy available to employees within the workplace;
  • Provide a copy of the policy to each employee at the time of hire; and
  • Require any individual who is designated by the employer to receive complaints to provide a copy of the policy to any employee who discloses information regarding prohibited discrimination or harassment at the time that such disclosure is made.

Now is a good time to do a complete review of your employee handbook to be sure all policies are in compliance with legal requirements prior to October 1, 2020. It is also a good time to update employment and severance agreements to remove any impermissible clauses so those agreements are ready for use on October 1, 2020.