The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the primary law that provides employees with protection from discrimination, retaliation and harassment in employment. FEHA provides protection from discrimination, retaliation and harassment in all terms and conditions of employment based on a number of protected categories, including, but not limited to, race, color, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc.
In 2022, the California legislature passed the Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022 (Senate Bill 523 or SB 523) which went into effect on January 1, 2023. Among other things, SB 523 amended FEHA to include “reproductive health decision-making” in the list of classifications that are protected by FEHA. FEHA now defines “reproductive health decision-making” as including, “but not limited to, a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, product, or medical service for reproductive health.” In other words, a person’s use of certain medications related to reproductive health, as well as vasectomies and/or in-vitro fertilization are now protected under the law. Under this new law, an employer cannot discriminate, retaliate or harass an employee based on an employee’s reproductive health decision-making. Further, an employer may not require employees or applicants to disclose information relating to their reproductive health decision-making as a condition of employment.
The Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022 also makes various changes to the law governing health care service plans and health insurance policies intended to improve equitable access to preventive contraceptive care, which apply to health care service plan contracts and health insurance policies issued, amended, renewed, or delivered on and after January 1, 2024.
If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your options.