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A pandemic of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) currently exists in California and beyond. Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on March 4, 2020.
Workers and employers should adhere to the latest government guidance on how to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, including guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health, and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
At the same time, employers must adhere to state and federal civil rights laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). For employers with 5 or more employees, the FEHA prohibits employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, national origin, disability, age (over 40), and other characteristics. The FEHA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with a disability, unless an employer shows undue hardship after engaging in the interactive process.
DFEH is providing this guidance to assist employers and employees with frequently asked questions about how to keep workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while also upholding civil rights. This guidance is based on current public health information and may be updated from time to time, and replaces previous guidance issued on March 20, 2020 and July 24, 2020. This guidance is for informational purposes only and does not create any rights or obligations separate from those imposed by the FEHA and other laws.