BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 592
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   May 18, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                     AB 592 (Lara) - As Amended:  April 25, 2011 

          Policy Committee:                              Labor and 
          Employment   Vote:                            5-1

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          No     Reimbursable:              No

           SUMMARY  

          This bill prohibits employers from interfering with, or 
          restraining an employee's exercise or attempted exercise of his 
          or her rights under the state's medical leave law.  
          Specifically, this bill: 

          Prohibits an employer from interfering with, or restraining, a 
          pregnant employee's exercise or attempted exercise of her right 
          to take pregnancy disability leave, as specified.    

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Negligible costs to the Department of Fair Employment Housing 
          (DFEH) to enforce this measure.  DFEH reports they currently 
          investigate complaints related to pregnancy disability leave 
          (PDL) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).   

          COMMENTS  

           1)Background  .  Existing law establishes the CFRA, which requires 
            employers with 50 or more employees to provide, upon request, 
            up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave during any 12-month 
            period for specified purposes, including childbirth.  

            Statute also provides an employee disabled by pregnancy, 
            childbirth, or a related medical condition to take PDL for 
            reasonable period of time not to exceed four months.    

            Current anti-discrimination statute also prohibits an employer 
            from refusing to hire or employ a person based on specified 
            characteristics, including but not limited to, a person's sex 








                                                                  AB 592
                                                                  Page  2

            and/or his or her medical condition.  Furthermore, statute 
            defines "sex" as it relates to pregnancy, childbirth, and 
            medical conditions related to the aforementioned.  

           2)Purpose  .  According to the author, "As written, California's 
            PDL and CFRA do not specifically recognize 'interference' with 
            an employee's right to leave as a basis for liability. As a 
            result, some courts have found that an employer in California 
            who interferes with an eligible employee's right to take 
            protected leave is not in violation of the law as long as the 
            employer does not actually 'refuse' the employee the right to 
            take leave.  For example, an employer who 'writes up' a woman 
            for taking protected leave, or for asking for such leave, was 
            recently found to have interfered with her right to leave, yet 
            was not found liable.  Such inconsistency impairs a mother's 
            ability to take protected leave.  Some courts have not 
            recognized interference as an independent cause of action, 
            resulting in inconsistent decisions and confusion for 
            employees and employers alike."  This bill seeks to clarify 
            current law by prohibiting employers from interfering with, or 
            restraining an employee's exercise or attempted exercise of 
            his or her rights under the state's medical leave law.  


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Kimberly Rodriguez / APPR. / (916) 
          319-2081