California Lawmakers Pass Caste Discrimination Bill, But it is Not Yet Law
On August 24, 2023, the California State Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 403—legislation that will bar caste discrimination in the workplace in the state. As the bill already passed the state senate earlier this year, and Governor Newsom vetoed the Bill in October, it is not clear as of this writing whether it will become the law in 2024. Here, our California employment attorney provides an overview of the key things employers should know about SB 403.
What is Caste Discrimination?
Caste discrimination refers to the prejudiced or unjust treatment of individuals based on their caste. Broadly defined, a caste is a traditional and complex system of social stratification. It is most commonly associated with South Asian societies. For example, the proposed reform was largely moved through the state’s complex legislative process by members and supporters of the “Dalit” community—who have long been at the bottom of India’s caste system.
While the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) emphasized that fact in announcing its support of the bill, the organization also noted that caste discrimination impacts other ethnic/religious communities. As drafted, the bill defines caste as “an individual’s perceived position in a system of social stratification on the basis of inherited status.” It would bar discrimination based on any type of caste.
SB 403 Would Amend FEHA to Include a Prohibition on Caste Discrimination
If it becomes law in California, SB 403 would amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to explicitly prohibit caste discrimination. FEHA applies to employers in California with five or more full-time or part-time employees. Notably, California is the first state in the country to pass a law barring caste discrimination in the workplace.
Employers Should Be Prepared to Ensure Full Compliance With FEHA
With the potential changes to FEHA—prohibition on caste discrimination—potentially on the near horizon, it is imperative that employers take a proactive approach to keep track of the Bill’s status and stay in full compliance with the law. Being proactive can protect an employer from serious problems in the workplace, including the risk of liability. An experienced California employment lawyer can help you ensure that your company’s rights and interests are properly protected.
Speak to an Employment Discrimination Lawyer for Employers in California
At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment lawyer helps clients find workplace solutions that are well-tailored to meet their specific situation. Contact us today to set up your confidential initial appointment with an attorney. We represent employers in Coachella Valley, Riverside County, and throughout all of California.