BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 836
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   August 22, 2007

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                  Mark Leno, Chair

                    SB 836 (Kuehl) - As Amended:  April 12, 2007 

          Policy Committee:                              Labor and  
          Employment   Vote:                            6-2
                        Judiciary                             7-1

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              

           SUMMARY  

          This bill modifies the employment provisions of the Fair  
          Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prohibit discrimination  
          based on the "familial status" of an employee. The bill defines:

          1)"Familial status" to include the care or support of a family  
            member.

          2)"Care or support" to include providing supervision or  
            transportation, providing psychological or emotional comfort,  
            addressing medical, educational, nutritional, hygienic, or  
            safety needs, and attending to an illness, injury, or mental  
            or physical disability.

          3)"Family member" to include a child, parent, spouse, domestic  
            partner, a parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.


           FISCAL EFFECT  

          The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is responsible for  
          enforcing provisions of the FEHA through investigations of  
          complaints, administrative hearings, and court actions. The  
          department estimates that it would need $740,000 for eight staff  
          to handle the increased volume of complaints resulting from this  
          bill.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Background  . The California FEHA and Unruh Civil Rights Act  








                                                                  SB 836
                                                                  Page  2

            protect individuals against discrimination in employment,  
            housing, public accommodation, and business services based on  
            specified personal characteristics. These include sex, race,  
            color, national origin, marital status, religion, sexual  
            orientation, age, and disability. 

          The  housing  provisions of FEHA also prohibit discrimination  
            based on "familial status," which is defined for this purpose  
            as a parent or legal guardian having one or more individual  
            under 18 years of age residing with him or her. This bill adds  
            familial status to the list of protected classes with respect  
            to  employment  discrimination. For purposes of the employment  
            sections of FEHA, familial status refers to an employee's  
            responsibility for care or support of a family member.
           
           2)Rationale  . The author states bill addresses a concern that  
            existing anti-discrimination laws do not directly address an  
            employee's status as a family caregiver as a protected class.  
            This has forced workers facing discrimination related to their  
            family responsibilities to seek relief through less direct  
            legal avenues - such as discrimination based on gender or  
            association with individuals with physical or mental  
            disabilities, which may be more difficult to prove. The author  
            asserts the bill will prevent an employer from unfairly using  
            an individual's familial status as a factor in employment  
            decisions.
           
          3)Opponents  contend that the bill creates a broad definition for  
            "familial status," which would invite frivolous lawsuits and  
            expose employers to increased liabilities and a more hostile  
            business environment in California. 

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Brad Williams / APPR. / (916) 319-2081