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SB-774 Lawyer-client privilege: Department of Fair Employment and Housing.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 03/03/2021 09:00 PM
SB774:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 03, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 774


Introduced by Senator Hertzberg

February 19, 2021


An act to amend Section 800 of add Section 954.1 to the Evidence Code, relating to evidence.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 774, as amended, Hertzberg. Evidence: opinion testimony. Lawyer-client privilege: Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Existing law establishes the lawyer-client evidentiary privilege in court proceedings, whereby the client of a lawyer has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, a confidential communication between the client and lawyer.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on account of certain characteristics. The act authorizes a person alleging a violation of specified provisions of the act to submit a complaint to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and requires the department to take actions to investigate that complaint.
This bill would specify that the lawyer-client privilege applies to confidential communications between a lawyer of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and a person who files a complaint with the department or another person on whose behalf a complaint is filed. The bill would state that these provisions are declarative of existing law and apply retroactively.

Existing law limits the types of opinion testimony from a witness who is not testifying as an expert.

This bill would make nonsubstantive changes to that provision.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 954.1 is added to the Evidence Code, to read:

954.1.
 (a) Subject to Section 912 and except as otherwise provided in this article, the lawyer-client privilege applies to confidential communications between a lawyer of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and a complainant who files a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or another person aggrieved by alleged discriminatory practices on whose behalf a complaint is filed. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is the holder of the privilege.
(b) (1) The purpose of this section is only to protect the confidentiality of communications between the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawyers and complainants or other aggrieved persons. This section does not establish a fiduciary, attorney-client relationship between a Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawyer and a complainant or aggrieved person. It does not limit the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s own rights under this article or its independent authority over how it receives, investigates, conciliates, mediates, or prosecutes complaints.
(2) This section is declarative of, and clarifies, existing law and applies retroactively.

SECTION 1.Section 800 of the Evidence Code is amended to read:
800.

If a witness is not testifying as an expert, the witness’s testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to such an opinion as is permitted by law, including but not limited to an opinion that is:

(a)Rationally based on the perception of the witness; and

(b)Helpful to a clear understanding of the witness’s testimony.