BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair


          SB 666 (Steinberg) - Employment: Retaliation Registration
          
          Amended: May 7, 2013            Policy Vote: L&IR 4-0, Judiciary  
          6-1
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: Yes
          Hearing Date: May 23, 2013      Consultant: Robert Ingenito
          
          SUSPENSE FILE.


          Bill Summary: SB 666 would suspend or revoke an employer's  
          business license for threatening to retaliate or retaliating  
          against an employee based citizenship or immigration status.   
          This bill would also provide for the suspension, disbarment, or  
          other discipline of an attorney who threatens to report the  
          immigration status of a witness or party to a civil or  
          administrative action because the witness or party exercises or  
          has exercised a right related to his or her employment.  The  
          bill also would establish a civil penalty up to $10,000 for  
          violations of its provisions. 

          Fiscal Impact: The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)  
          estimates that it would incur costs of $665,000 (special funds)  
          ongoing to implement the provisions of the bill.

          Background: Employees are entitled to protections under current  
          law regardless of their immigration status. Nevertheless, cases  
          exist where such workers seek to exercise their employment  
          rights (e.g. receiving minimum wage, or being paid for the hours  
          they work, a sexual harassment-free work environment, etc.),  
          with the employer responding by threatening to report them  
          and/or their family to immigration or law enforcement officials  
          (or actually doing so). Additional instances exist where such  
          employers have utilized attorneys who have used similar threats  
          to dissuade people from testifying or participating in  
          depositions in support of workers seeking to enforce their  
          employment rights.  

          Proposed Law: This bill would add to labor law protections  
          against threats and intimidation by employers, or any person  
          acting on behalf of the employer, for employees who engage in  
          protected activity. Specifically, this bill would, among other  








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          things, do the following:

                 Prohibit any person acting on behalf of the employer  
               from making, adopting, or enforcing any rule, regulation,  
               or policy preventing an employee from disclosing  
               information to a government or law enforcement agency.  
               Current law already contains these prohibitions with  
               respect to the employer.

                 Prohibit an employer or any person acting on behalf of  
               the employer from preventing, or retaliating against, an  
               employee for providing information to [or testifying  
               before] any public body conducting an investigation,  
               hearing, or inquiry.  

                 Prohibit an employer from retaliating or taking adverse  
               action against [current law protects against discharge or  
               discrimination] any employee or applicant for employment  
               because he/she has engaged in protected conduct (such as  
               rights under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner). 

                  o         The bill would expand the protected conduct to  
                    include a written or oral complaint by an employee  
                    that he or she is owed unpaid wages. 

                  o         The bill would subject an employer that is a  
                    corporation or limited liability company to a civil  
                    penalty of up to $10,000 per violation of these  
                    provisions.

                 Make it a cause for suspension, disbarment, or other  
               discipline for any member of the State Bar to report, or  
               threaten to report, the immigration status of a witness or  
               party to a civil or administrative action -or his or her  
               family member- to a federal, state, or local agency because  
               the witness or party exercises a right related to his or  
               her employment. 

                 Specify that a business license is subject to suspension  
               or revocation if a current, former, or prospective employee  
               of the licensee attempts to exercise a right related to  
               his/her employment or any terms, conditions, or benefits  
               protected by state law and, in reaction, the licensee  
               threatens to retaliate or retaliates based on the  








          SB 666 (Steinberg)
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               employee's citizenship or immigration status.

                 Provide that it is not necessary for an individual to  
               exhaust administrative remedies or procedures in order to  
               bring a civil action under Labor Code, unless the code  
               section under which the action is brought expressly  
               requires exhaustion.

                 Specify that reporting (or threatening to report) an  
               employee's, former employee's, or prospective employee's  
               citizenship or immigration status, or that of his/her  
               family member, to a federal, state, or local agency because  
               he/she exercises a protected right would constitute an  
               adverse action for purposes of establishing a violation of  
               the designated right.


          Staff Comments: This bill addresses employer retaliation against  
          employees who assert rights under the Labor Code and reinforces  
          protections available to all employees regardless of citizenship  
          or immigration status. The bill's provisions pertaining to the  
          Labor Code would fall under DIR's Retaliation Complaint  
          Investigation unit (RCI) which investigates and files actions  
          pursuant to Labor Code 98.7 based upon discrimination and  
          retaliation complaints filed by employees.
           
          The State's workforce is currently 18.6 million persons. DIR  
          uses a reported statistic that one in ten workers is  
          undocumented to develop a population of about 1.86 million  
          undocumented workers in the State. Beginning with this starting  
          figure, and incorporating various assumptions, DIR estimates the  
          need for five new positions and one partial-year position to  
          investigate additional complaints under the bill's provisions.