AB 933 – Expands Defamation Protections For Claims Of Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, And Retaliation

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Nonprofit News, Private Education Matters, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Nonprofit, Private Education, Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Nov 06, 2023

Existing law makes certain written and oral publications and communications privileged and therefore protected from civil action, including complaints of sexual harassment by an employee, made without malice, to an employer based on credible evidence and communications between the employer and interested persons regarding a complaint of sexual harassment.

Effective January 1, 2024, Assembly Bill 933 (AB 933) adds to those privileged communications a communication made by an individual, without malice, regarding an incident of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination.  This privilege applies to an individual who has, or at any time had, a reasonable basis to file a complaint of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination, whether the complaint was filed or not.  For the purposes of AB 933, a “communication” means factual information related to an incident of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination arising under certain laws, such as the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is experienced by the individual making the communication.

AB 933 makes attorney’s fees and damages available to a prevailing defendant in any defamation action brought against that defendant for making that privileged communication, plus treble damages for any harm caused to them by the defamation action against them and any punitive damages or other relief otherwise permitted by law.

(AB 933 adds Section 47.1 to the Civil Code.)

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