Senate Bill 796 (Dunn – 2003)
Chapter 906, Statutes of 2003
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Labor Code sections 2698 and 2699 were enacted in 2003 following legislative approval of Senate Bill 796, which proposed only to enact these two sections as the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. (See Exhibit #1i) Senator Joseph Dunn introduced Senate Bill 796 on February 21, 2003 for the California Labor Federation and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLA). (See Exhibits #1a and #4, document SP1-6)
Senate Bill 796 was assigned to the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, the Senate Committee on Judiciary, the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment and the Assembly Committee on Judiciary where policy issues raised by the bill were considered. (See Exhibits #3, #5, #9, and #11) The fiscal ramifications of the bill were considered by the Senate and Assembly Committees on Appropriations. (See Exhibits #2 and #13)
Seven amendments were made to Senate Bill 796 during legislative consideration. (See Exhibits #1b through #1h and #2) A careful review of each of the amended versions of the bill is very helpful in obtaining a full understanding of legislative intent. This can be especially true where one is focusing on particular language; contrasting that enacted with the unsuccessful proposals can afford insight as to the intended meaning. Your review of each version of the bill should provide you with insight as to the development of the language of interest to you as the bill proceeded through the Legislature. (Id.)
Subsequent to legislative approval, Governor Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 796 on October 12, 2003, and it was recorded by the Secretary of State on that date as Chapter 906 of the Statutes of 2003. (See Exhibits #1i and #2)
The Unfinished Business analysis prepared by the Office of Senate Floor Analyses provides the following digest of Senate Bill 796 as it was last amended on September 2, 2003:
DIGEST: This bill allows employees to sue their employers for civil penalties for employment law violations. This bill is intended to augment the enforcement abilities of the Labor Commissioner by creating an alternative “private attorney general” system for labor law enforcement.
Assembly Amendments (1) provide that the bill will not affect the exclusive remedy provided by workers’ compensation provisions of current law, (2) clarify that no penalty is established for any failure to act by the Labor and Workplace Development Agency, as specified, and (3) make clarifying changes.
(See Exhibit #16, page 2)