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SB-491 Civil rights: discrimination: enforcement.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 07/12/2017 09:00 PM
SB491:v95#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  July 12, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 06, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  May 01, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 491


Introduced by Senator Bradford
(Principal coauthor: Senator Beall)

February 16, 2017


An act to amend Section 12993 of the Government Code, relating to civil rights.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 491, as amended, Bradford. Civil rights: discrimination: enforcement.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act generally prohibits business establishments from discriminating on specified bases.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and employment on specified bases and provides procedures for enforcement by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (department).
Existing law specifies that while it is the intent of the Legislature that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act occupy the field of regulation of discrimination in employment and housing, nothing in the act shall be construed to limit or restrict the application of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
This bill would provide that a local government entity is permitted under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to refer a person alleging discrimination to the department and to provide the person with relevant information and resources, as appropriate.
The bill would require the department, by April 1, 2018, to establish an advisory group, as specified, to determine the feasibility of authorizing local government entities to also enforce antidiscrimination statutes. The bill would require the advisory group, if it determines that such enforcement is feasible, to develop an implementation plan and draft proposed legislation for presentation to the Legislature by December 31, 2018.
The bill would provide legislative findings and declarations in support of these provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act of 2017.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) One in three women experience sexual harassment at work. More than one-quarter of African Americans and Hispanics and 30 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers report recent workplace discrimination.
(b) Nearly 70 percent of the claims for workplace discrimination filed by California workers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) were based on race and disability discrimination in 2016.
(c) In May of 2017, despite recent increases in workplace discrimination based on race and religious identity, President Donald Trump proposed dramatic budget cuts to federal labor standards and civil rights enforcement, including the elimination of hundreds of investigator positions at the EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
(d) Even without an expected increased workload as a result of the federal undermining of workplace antidiscrimination enforcement, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which has jurisdiction over enforcement of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), struggles with investigator caseloads. Higher caseloads lead to delays in case resolution, undermining investigations, and, in the end, justice.
(e) For the above reasons, it is imperative that local municipal governments in California be encouraged to pursue supportive workplace antidiscrimination activities currently allowed under existing law and that a workgroup be established to consider and draft legislation allowing for local enforcement of FEHA protections.

SEC. 3.

 Section 12993 of the Government Code is amended to read:

12993.
 (a) The provisions of this part shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of the purposes of this part. Nothing contained in this part shall be deemed to repeal any of the provisions of the Civil Rights Law or of any other law of this state relating to discrimination because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation, unless those provisions provide less protection to the enumerated classes of persons covered under this part.
(b) Nothing contained in this part relating to discrimination in employment on account of sex or medical condition shall be deemed to affect the operation of the terms or conditions of any bona fide retirement, pension, employee benefit, or insurance plan, provided the terms or conditions are in accordance with customary and reasonable or actuarially sound underwriting practices.
(c) While it is the intention of the Legislature to occupy the field of regulation of discrimination in employment and housing encompassed by the provisions of this part, exclusive of all other laws banning discrimination in employment and housing by any city, city and county, county, or other political subdivision of the state, nothing contained in this part shall be construed, in any manner or way, to limit or restrict the application of Section 51 of the Civil Code.
(d) Nothing contained in this part shall be construed to limit the ability of a local government entity to refer a person alleging discrimination to the department for information on the manner and necessity of filing a proper and timely complaint, assist that person in doing so to the extent permitted by law, and provide relevant information and resources, as appropriate.

SEC. 4.

 The Department of Fair Employment and Housing shall, not later than April 1, 2018, establish an advisory group consisting of at least one member of the department, and civil rights, employer, and employee advocates, to do all of the following:
(a) Conduct a study to determine the feasibility of authorizing local government entities to also enforce antidiscrimination statutes. The study shall include a survey of local government entities to inquire about the types of activities that these entities are currently engaged in or expect to engage in relevant to subdivision (c) of Section 12993, including:
(1) Culturally appropriate outreach and education about rights under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
(2) Statutory Advising persons about statutory time limits for complaints.
(3) Referrals to the department.
(4) Investigation.
(5) Fact gathering, including gathering through subpoenas.
(6) Workplace site visits.
(7) Collection of data.
(8) Mediation.
(9) Intake assistance and outreach.
(10) Partnerships with community-based organizations.
(b) (1) If the advisory group concludes that enforcement by local entities is feasible, develop an implementation plan and draft proposed legislation for the next legislative session to authorize local enforcement.
(2) The advisory group may consult with the Legislative Counsel and the Law Review Commission California Law Revision Commission in drafting the proposed legislation.
(c) Consult with stakeholders, including department representatives and civil rights, employer, and employee advocates as part of drafting proposed legislation.
(d) Not later than December 31, 2018, present the results of the study, implementation plan, and the proposed legislation, if any, to the Legislature, pursuant to Section 9795 of the Government Code.