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SB-550 Public school employment: meeting and negotiating: legal actions: settlement offer: attorney’s fees.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 10/16/2017 02:00 PM
SB550:v93#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 550
CHAPTER 812

An act to amend Section 3543.8 of the Government Code, relating to public school employment.

[ Approved by Governor  October 14, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  October 14, 2017. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 550, Pan. Public school employment: meeting and negotiating: legal actions: settlement offer: attorney’s fees.
Existing law gives public school employees the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations. Existing law gives an employee organization standing to sue in an action or proceeding instituted on behalf of one or more of its members.
This bill would authorize an employee organization to make an offer to settle a dispute alleging an employer’s failure to provide wages, benefits, or working conditions required by state law in accordance with specified procedural requirements and would require the employer, if the employer does not accept the offer and fails to obtain a more favorable judgment or award, to pay the employee organization’s attorney’s fees and expenses incurred after the offer was made, subject to specified exceptions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 3543.8 of the Government Code is amended to read:

3543.8.
 (a) Any employee organization shall have standing to sue in any action or proceeding heretofore or hereafter instituted by it as representative and on behalf of one or more of its members.
(b) (1) At any time not less than 10 days before commencement of a hearing to resolve a dispute alleging that the employer failed to provide wages, benefits, or working conditions required by state law, an employee organization may serve an offer in writing upon the employer to settle the dispute for a specified amount or other consideration such as a change in employer policy. The written offer shall include a statement of the offer amount or other consideration, the terms and conditions by which that amount or other consideration shall be tendered to the employee, and a provision that allows the employer to indicate acceptance of the offer by signing a statement that the offer is accepted. An acceptance of the offer, whether made on the document containing the offer or on a separate document of acceptance, shall be in writing and shall be signed by counsel for the employer, or, if not represented by counsel, by the employer.
(2) If the offer is accepted, receipt of the specified amount or other consideration shall constitute a full satisfaction of the claim.
(3) If the offer is not accepted before the hearing or within 30 days after it is made, whichever occurs first, it shall be deemed withdrawn and cannot be given in evidence in the action.
(4) For purposes of this subdivision, a hearing shall be deemed to be actually commenced at the beginning of the oral argument or opening statement of the plaintiff or counsel, or, if there is no opening statement, at the time of the administering of the oath or affirmation to the first witness, or the introduction of any evidence.
(5) (A) If an offer made by an employee organization is not accepted and the employer fails to obtain a more favorable judgment or award from the action or proceeding, the employer shall pay the reasonable postoffer attorney’s fees and expenses of the employee organization.
(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply if the adjudicator to the action or proceeding finds that the employer has raised substantial and credible issues involving complex or significant questions of law or fact relative to the employee’s claim or claims.
(6) This subdivision does not apply to unfair practice or arbitration proceedings under this chapter.