Compare Versions

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

AB-9 Employment discrimination: limitation of actions. (2019-2020)



Current Version: 10/10/19 - Chaptered         Compare Versions information image


AB9:v95#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 9
CHAPTER 709

An act to amend Sections 12960 and 12965 of the Government Code, relating to employment.

[ Approved by Governor  October 10, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  October 10, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 9, Reyes. Employment discrimination: limitation of actions.
Existing law, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, makes specified employment and housing practices unlawful, including discrimination against or harassment of employees and tenants, among others. Existing law authorizes a person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice to file a verified complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date upon which the unlawful practice occurred, unless otherwise specified.
This bill would extend the above-described period to 3 years for complaints alleging employment discrimination, as specified. The bill would specify that the operative date of the verified complaint is the date that the intake form was filed with the Labor Commissioner. The bill would make conforming changes in provisions that grant a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice who first obtains knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful practice after the expiration of the limitations period, as specified.
Existing law authorizes the Director of Fair Employment and Housing to bring a civil action in the name of the department on behalf of a person claiming to be aggrieved in the case of failure to eliminate an unlawful practice through conference, conciliation, mediation, or persuasion. Existing law requires the director to bring the civil action within a specified time after the filing of the complaint.
This bill would, for those purposes, define filing a complaint to mean filing an intake form with the department, and would specify that the operative date of the verified complaint relates back to the filing of the form.
This bill would prohibit its provisions from being interpreted to revive lapsed claims.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 12960 of the Government Code is amended to read:

12960.
 (a)  This article governs the procedure for the prevention and elimination of practices made unlawful pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 12940) of Chapter 6.
(b) For purposes of this section, filing a complaint means filing an intake form with the department and the operative date of the verified complaint relates back to the filing of the intake form.
(c) Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice may file with the department a verified complaint, in writing, that shall state the name and address of the person, employer, labor organization, or employment agency alleged to have committed the unlawful practice complained of, and that shall set forth the particulars thereof and contain other information as may be required by the department. The director or the director’s authorized representative may in like manner, on that person’s own motion, make, sign, and file a complaint.
(d) Any employer whose employees, or some of them, refuse or threaten to refuse to cooperate with this part may file with the department a verified complaint asking for assistance by conciliation or other remedial action.
(e) A complaint alleging a violation of Section 51, 51.5, 51.7, 54, 54.1, or 54.2 of the Civil Code, shall not be filed pursuant to this article after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred. A complaint alleging any other violation of Article 1 (commencing with Section 12940) of Chapter 6 shall not be filed after the expiration of three years from the date upon which the unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred. However, the filing periods set forth by this section may be extended as follows:
(1) For a period of time not to exceed 90 days following the expiration of the applicable filing deadline, if a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful practice during the 90 days following the expiration of the applicable filing deadline.
(2) For a period of time not to exceed one year following a rebutted presumption of the identity of the person’s employer under Section 12928, in order to allow a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice to make a substitute identification of the actual employer.
(3) For a period of time, not to exceed one year from the date the person aggrieved by an alleged violation of Section 51.7 of the Civil Code becomes aware of the identity of a person liable for the alleged violation, but in no case exceeding three years from the date of the alleged violation if during that period the aggrieved person is unaware of the identity of any person liable for the alleged violation.
(4) For a period of time not to exceed one year from the date that a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice attains the age of majority.

SEC. 2.

 Section 12965 of the Government Code is amended to read:

12965.
 (a) In the case of failure to eliminate an unlawful practice under this part through conference, conciliation, mediation, or persuasion, or in advance thereof if circumstances warrant, the director in the director’s discretion may bring a civil action in the name of the department on behalf of the person claiming to be aggrieved. Prior to filing a civil action, the department shall require all parties to participate in mandatory dispute resolution in the department’s internal dispute resolution division free of charge to the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without litigation. In any civil action, the person claiming to be aggrieved shall be the real party in interest and shall have the right to participate as a party and be represented by that person’s own counsel. The civil action shall be brought in any county in which unlawful practices are alleged to have been committed, in the county in which records relevant to the alleged unlawful practices are maintained and administered, or in the county in which the person claiming to be aggrieved would have worked or would have had access to public accommodation, but for the alleged unlawful practices. If the defendant is not found in any of these counties, the action may be brought within the county of the defendant’s residence or principal office.
For any complaint treated by the director as a group or class complaint for purposes of investigation, conciliation, mediation, or civil action pursuant to Section 12961, a civil action shall be brought, if at all, within two years after the filing of the complaint. For any complaint alleging a violation of Section 51.7 of the Civil Code, a civil action shall be brought, if at all, within two years after the filing of the complaint. For all other complaints, a civil action shall be brought, if at all, within one year after the filing of a complaint. If the director determines, pursuant to Section 12961, that a complaint investigated as a group or class complaint under Section 12961 is to be treated as a group or class complaint for purposes of conciliation, mediation, or civil action as well, that determination shall be made and shall be communicated in writing within one year after the filing of the complaint to each person, employer, labor organization, employment agency, or public entity alleged in the complaint to have committed an unlawful practice. For purposes of this section, filing a complaint means filing a verified complaint.
(b) If a civil action is not brought by the department within 150 days after the filing of a complaint, or if the department earlier determines that no civil action will be brought, the department shall promptly notify, in writing, the person claiming to be aggrieved that the department shall issue, on request, the right-to-sue notice. This notice shall indicate that the person claiming to be aggrieved may bring a civil action under this part against the person, employer, labor organization, or employment agency named in the verified complaint within one year from the date of that notice. If the person claiming to be aggrieved does not request a right-to-sue notice, the department shall issue the notice upon completion of its investigation, and not later than one year after the filing of the complaint. A city, county, or district attorney in a location having an enforcement unit established on or before March 1, 1991, pursuant to a local ordinance enacted for the purpose of prosecuting HIV/AIDS discrimination claims, acting on behalf of any person claiming to be aggrieved due to HIV/AIDS discrimination, may also bring a civil action under this part against the person, employer, labor organization, or employment agency named in the notice. The superior courts of the State of California shall have jurisdiction of those actions, and the aggrieved person may file in these courts. An action may be brought in any county in the state in which the unlawful practice is alleged to have been committed, in the county in which the records relevant to the practice are maintained and administered, or in the county in which the aggrieved person would have worked or would have had access to the public accommodation but for the alleged unlawful practice, but if the defendant is not found within any of these counties, an action may be brought within the county of the defendant’s residence or principal office. A copy of any complaint filed pursuant to this part shall be served on the principal offices of the department. The remedy for failure to send a copy of a complaint is an order to do so. Those actions may not be filed as class actions or may not be maintained as class actions by the person or persons claiming to be aggrieved where those persons have filed a civil class action in the federal courts alleging a comparable claim of employment discrimination against the same defendant or defendants. In civil actions brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to the prevailing party, including the department, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees, except that, notwithstanding Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a prevailing defendant shall not be awarded fees and costs unless the court finds the action was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.
(c) A court may grant as relief in any action filed pursuant to subdivision (a) any relief a court is empowered to grant in a civil action brought pursuant to subdivision (b), in addition to any other relief that, in the judgment of the court, will effectuate the purpose of this part. This relief may include a requirement that the employer conduct training for all employees, supervisors, and management on the requirements of this part, the rights and remedies of those who allege a violation of this part, and the employer’s internal grievance procedures. In addition, in order to vindicate the purposes and policies of this part, a court may assess against the defendant, if the civil complaint or amended civil complaint so prays, a civil penalty of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) to be awarded to a person denied any right provided for by Section 51.7 of the Civil Code, as an unlawful practice prohibited under this part.
(d) (1) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the one-year statute of limitations, commencing from the date of the right-to-sue notice by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, to the person claiming to be aggrieved, shall be tolled when all of the following requirements have been met:
(A) A charge of discrimination or harassment is timely filed concurrently with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
(B) The investigation of the charge is deferred by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
(C) A right-to-sue notice is issued to the person claiming to be aggrieved upon deferral of the charge by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
(2) The time for commencing an action for which the statute of limitations is tolled under paragraph (1) expires when the federal right-to-sue period to commence a civil action expires, or one year from the date of the right-to-sue notice by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, whichever is later.
(3) This subdivision is intended to codify the holding in Downs v. Department of Water and Power of City of Los Angeles (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1093.
(e) (1) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the one-year statute of limitations, commencing from the date of the right-to-sue notice by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, to the person claiming to be aggrieved, shall be tolled when all of the following requirements have been met:
(A) A charge of discrimination or harassment is timely filed concurrently with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
(B) The investigation of the charge is deferred by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
(C) After investigation and determination by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees to perform a substantial weight review of the determination of the department or conducts its own investigation of the claim filed by the aggrieved person.
(2) The time for commencing an action for which the statute of limitations is tolled under paragraph (1) shall expire when the federal right-to-sue period to commence a civil action expires, or one year from the date of the right-to-sue notice by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, whichever is later.

SEC. 3.

 This act shall not be interpreted to revive lapsed claims.