Bill Text

Bill Information

PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-333 Whistleblower protection: county patients’ rights advocates.(2019-2020)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 06/27/2019 04:00 AM
AB333:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 26, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 17, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 333


Introduced by Assembly Member Eggman
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Gonzalez and Reyes)

January 31, 2019


An act to add Section 1102.51 to the Labor Code, and to amend Section 5550 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to employment.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 333, as amended, Eggman. Whistleblower protection: county patients’ rights advocates.
Existing law relating to whistleblower protection prohibits an employer, as defined, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, as defined, from, among other things, preventing an employee from, or retaliating against an employee for, providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a law, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties. A violation of these provisions is a crime.
Existing law relating to mental health advocacy requires each local mental health director to appoint, or contract for the services of, one or more county patients’ rights advocates to perform prescribed duties. Existing law prohibits the knowing obstruction of a county patients’ rights advocate in the performance of the advocate’s duties.
This bill would extend the whistleblower protections afforded to employees under these provisions to county patients’ rights advocates appointed or under contract contract, as independent contractors or employees of a contracted organization, to provide services relating to mental health advocacy. The bill would apply prohibitions against retaliation by an employer to a local contracting agency under these provisions. The bill would establish a private right of action to enforce the rights and protections afforded to county patients’ rights advocates and would provide that a violation does not require an administrative investigation by the Department of Industrial Relations.
Because this bill would create a new crime, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 1102.51 is added to the Labor Code, immediately following Section 1102.5, to read:

1102.51.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, the rights and protections afforded to employees under Section 1102.5 shall apply to county patients’ rights advocates, advocates who perform this role as independent contractors or employees of a contracted organization, as described in Section 5520 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. The prohibitions against retaliation by an employer in Section 1102.5 shall apply to the local contracting agency.
(b) The rights and protections afforded under this section shall be enforceable by a private right of action and a violation of this section shall not require an administrative investigation by the department.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with protections already granted to a patients’ rights advocate who is a government employee under Section 1102.5.

SEC. 2.

 Section 5550 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

5550.
 (a) Any person participating in filing a complaint or providing information pursuant to this chapter or participating in a judicial proceeding resulting therefrom shall be presumed to be acting in good faith and unless the presumption is rebutted shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, and shall be immune from any penalty, sanction, or restriction that otherwise might be incurred or imposed.
(b) A person shall not knowingly obstruct any county patients’ rights advocate in the performance of duties as described in this chapter, including, but not limited to, access to clients or potential clients, or to their records, whether financial, medical, or otherwise, or to other information, materials, or records, or otherwise violate this chapter.
(c) A facility to which the provisions of Section 5325 are applicable shall not discriminate or retaliate in any manner against a patient or employee on the basis that the patient or employee has initiated or participated in any proceeding specified in this chapter. Any attempt by a facility to expel a patient, or any discriminatory treatment of a patient, who, or upon whose behalf, a complaint has been submitted to a county patients’ rights advocate within 120 days of the filing of the complaint shall raise a rebuttable presumption that the action was taken by the facility in retaliation for the filing of the complaint.
(d) A county patients’ rights advocate shall not knowingly violate this chapter concerning client privacy and the confidentiality of personally identifiable information.
(e) Any person or facility found in violation of subdivision (b) or (d) shall pay a civil penalty, as determined by a court, of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) ($1,000), which shall be deposited in the county general funds.
(f) All A county patients’ rights advocates advocate who performs this role as an independent contractor or employee of a contracted organization shall have the protection provided pursuant to Section 1102.51 of the Labor Code.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.