BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”



                                                                    AB 2261


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          Date of Hearing:  May 18, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          2261 (Roger HernŠndez) - As Introduced February 18, 2016


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill authorizes the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement  
          (DLSE), in addition to receiving employee complaints for  
          retaliation, to commence an investigation, issue a citation, or  
          bring an action against an employer who discharges or otherwise  
          discriminates against an individual in violation of any law  
          under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner, with or  
          without receiving a complaint from an employee.


          FISCAL EFFECT:










                                                                    AB 2261


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          Minor/absorbable costs to the Department of Industrial  
          Relations.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose. Current law prohibits an employer from discharging,  
            discriminating or retaliating against an employee for engaging  
            in protected activities, such as whistleblower activities, or  
            for filing a claim related to his or her rights that are under  
            the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner. Any person who  
            believes that he or she has been discharged or otherwise  
            discriminated against can pursue civil action or file an  
            administrative claim with the Labor Commissioner.  The Labor  
            Commissioner, however, currently lacks the authority to file  
            an independent citation alleging that an employer has  
            unlawfully retaliated against an employee or employees, even  
            if the Labor Commissioner, for example, comes across evidence  
            of retaliation during an investigation by the Bureau of Field  
            Enforcement (BOFE).
            This bill, sponsored by the California Labor Federation,  
            AFL-CIO, protects many workers who never make complaints,  
            often because they fear retaliation by their employer. For  
            example, a National Employment Law Project (NELP) study of  
            immigrant hotel workers found that only 20% of those who had  
            experienced work-related pain had filed workers' compensation  
            claims for fear of getting "in trouble" or being fired. The  
            sponsor states that this bill will strengthen the ability of  
            the Labor Commissioner to enforce retaliation laws and will  
            increase protection for the most vulnerable in California's  
            workforce.

          2)Background. In 2014, the Labor Commissioner's Retaliation  
            Complaints Investigation (RCI) unit accepted complaints  
            alleging violations of 23 of the 45 laws relating to  
            retaliation. Of the 3,800 complaints received that year, the  
            unit accepted 1,874 for investigation. The others were  
            rejected because they were deemed to be outside of the  








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            jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner. Cases accepted by the  
            RCI unit have increased by 48 percent from 2011 to 2014.  In  
            acknowledgement of the increase in retaliation claims, the  
            Governor's current budget proposal requests 19.5 additional  
            positions for the Labor Commissioner's Retaliation Complaints  
            Investigation (RCI) unit. The Assembly budget subcommittee  
            approved this request on April 12, 2016. 

          3)Opposition. Opposition, including the California Chamber of  
            Commerce, are concerned the bill eliminates existing  
            procedures and time limitations set forth in existing law  
            relative to retaliation claims. They are concerned the bill  
            subjects employers to a constant threat of citation,  
            investigation or litigation for alleged discrimination and  
            retaliation.




          Analysis Prepared by:Misty Feusahrens / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081