A California Workplace Checklist for Pride Month

It’s Pride month: rainbow flags are flying, social media avatars are changing, and parade planning is in full swing. In addition to celebrations, California businesses can use this important month to review their practices and policies to ensure an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees. Although creating a supportive work environment is a kind and empathetic thing to do, it’s also the law. More about that later, but first: a checklist. Not all of the following are mandatory requirements; some suggestions may be aspirational. However, reviewing these options is an excellent place to start to ensure that we all respect the rights of our LGBTQ+ employees and comply with the law.

Pride Month Checklist for Employers

1. Review Anti-Discrimination Policies
  • Ensure comprehensive policies: Verify that your anti-discrimination policies explicitly include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • Regular updates: Keep these policies up-to-date with the latest legal standards and best practices.
2. Provide Diversity and Inclusion Training
  • Mandatory training: Implement diversity and inclusion training for all employees, emphasizing LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Leadership involvement: Ensure leadership participates in and champions these training sessions to set the tone from the top.
3. Create Supportive Workplace Structures
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Support the formation of LGBTQ+ ERGs to provide a community for employees and a platform for advocacy.
  • Mentorship programs: Establish mentorship programs that pair LGBTQ+ employees with supportive leaders within the organization.
4. Review Benefits and Policies for Inclusivity
  • Healthcare benefits: Ensure that healthcare plans cover LGBTQ+ specific health needs, including gender-affirming treatments.
  • Family leave policies: Include inclusive family leave policies that recognize same-sex partnerships and parental rights.
  • Dress code policies: Ensure your dress code policies encourage employees to dress in accordance with their gender identities.
5. Foster an Inclusive Culture
  • PRIDE Month celebrations: Organize or participate in PRIDE events and encourage employees to do the same.
  • Visible support: Display symbols of support, such as PRIDE flags or inclusive signage, in the workplace. Use the pronouns and names preferred by your employees.
6. Promote Safe Reporting Mechanisms
  • Confidential channels: Ensure there are confidential and safe channels for reporting discrimination or harassment.
  • Responsive action: Have a clear process for investigating and addressing complaints, ensuring timely and fair resolutions.
7. Engage with the LGBTQ+ Community
  • Partnerships: Build partnerships with local LGBTQ+ organizations and participate in community events.
  • Corporate social responsibility: Support LGBTQ+ causes through donations or volunteer programs.
8. Evaluate Recruitment and Retention Practices
  • Bias-free recruitment: Review hiring practices to eliminate bias and ensure a diverse candidate pool.
  • Retention strategies: Analyze retention data to identify and address any disparities affecting LGBTQ+ employees.
9. Regularly Assess Workplace Climate
  • Surveys and feedback: Conduct regular surveys to gauge the inclusivity of the workplace environment and solicit anonymous feedback from LGBTQ+ employees.
  • Continuous improvement: Use the data collected to make informed changes and improvements to policies and practices.
10. Review Drug and Alcohol policies
  • Ensure comprehensive policies: If you and your employees organize and participate in PRIDE events in the workplace, verify that your drug and alcohol policies explicitly discuss employees’ conduct during these events.
  • Regular updates: Keep these policies up-to-date with the latest legal standards and best practices.
11. Comply with Legal Requirements
  • Stay informed: Keep abreast of state and federal laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights and ensure full compliance.
  • Legal counsel: Consult with legal experts to navigate complex situations and ensure robust protections are in place.

FEHA: A Foundational California Workplace Law

Most employers strive for a healthy workplace for all employees; it is also the law. The California Fair and Employment Housing Act (“FEHA”) applies to public and private employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies, protecting employees against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace. FEHA provides that it is illegal for employers (with five or more employees) to discriminate against job applicants and employees because of their protected class or retaliate against them because they have asserted their rights under the law. Among the many protected classes recognized under FEHA are an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

FEHA also prohibits harassment in all workplaces (regardless of number of employees) based on a protected class (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression) against an employee, an applicant, an unpaid intern, a volunteer, or a contractor. Individual harassers can be held personally liable if a fact finder determines that they engaged in unlawful harassment against another person in the workplace. FEHA further requires that employers take reasonable steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace. 

By actively engaging in these practices, employers can celebrate PRIDE Month and demonstrate a lasting commitment to equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees. Creating an inclusive workplace is not just a legal responsibility—it’s a vital part of a healthy, diverse, and successful organization.

If you have any questions about complying with the matters discussed in this article, your employment law attorney and HR Team are excellent resources with which to consult.