California Proposes National Origin Regulations

Proposed amendments to the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) specifically address national origin protections.
Proposed amendments to the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) specifically address national origin protections.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council recently proposed amendments to the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to specifically address national origin protections

California has strict rules that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on protected classes, including national origin.

The draft regulations discuss the type of acts that may constitute national origin discrimination. The regulations are intended to provide guidance for areas where an employer might unknowingly discriminate and would significantly expand existing rules (see Initial Statement of Reasons). The regulations also discuss prohibited immigration-related practices.

The proposed regulations also include the following:

  • Revision and expansion of rules relating to language restrictions in the workplace.
  • Explanation of rules relating to accent discrimination.
  • Prohibition against discrimination based on English proficiency, unless necessary for the position and the requirement is narrowly tailored.
  • Rules prohibiting height and weight requirements as they may lead to national origin discrimination. Employers may still assert any permissible defense.
  • A statement that you can’t deny employment opportunities because an individual received his/her education or training outside of the United States.
  • Immigration-related protections, such as prohibition against threatening to contact immigration authorities because an employee complained about unlawful practices.
  • Rules relating to recruitment and job segregation.

Comment Period

The Council will hold a public hearing starting at 10 a.m. on July 17, 2017 at the following location:

California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Avenue


San Francisco, CA 94102

Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on July 17, 2017.

Written comments can be submitted by e-mail to or mailed to:

Fair Employment and Housing Council

c/o Brian Sperber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel

Department of Fair Employment and Housing

320 West 4th Street, 10th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90013

For more information on the proposed regulations, visit the Fair Employment and Housing Council’s website.

Federal Guidance

In addition to these proposed state regulations, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently  issued enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination. The guidance discusses the prohibition on national origin discrimination and best practices.

Last fiscal year, approximately 11 percent of charges filed with the EEOC involved claims of national origin discrimination. These charges include claims of unlawful refusal to hire, harassment, termination and language-related issues.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

CalChamber members can read more about National Origin in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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