Work it California: Labor & Employment Bills to Watch in 2013
Every year key legislation is introduced, which can have a dramatic effect on labor and employer relations in the state.
Here are three bills that could alter employment in California:
SB 626 (Beall) - Massive Workers’ Compensation Cost Increase
Unions and employers came together last year to ensure that our workers’ compensation system operates more efficiently with fewer disputes and litigation. In exchange for these employer protections, the bill provided injured workers with nearly $1 billion in benefit increases.
Senate Bill 626 attempts to eliminate the cornerstone cost-saving provision of the reform package – independent medical review (IMR). Under the bill, IMR decisions would be fully appealable, removing medical decisions from physicians and putting them back in the hands of judges. This is estimated to cost employers more than $400 million.
VICA urges you to oppose SB 626 (Beall). This repeal of last year’s carefully crafted bipartisan compromise unfairly undercuts employer rights, while enriching the nefarious actors that help to make our state the American Tort Reform Association’s top “judicial hellhole” in the nation.
SB 761 (DeSaulnier) - Paid Family Leave Protection
Paid Family Leave (PFL) is a wage replacement program, meaning that it provides employees with partial compensation while they are out on an employer-approved leave of absence. The existing PFL, however, does not independently provide an employee with a right to a protected leave of absence.
The right to a leave of absence under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is only applicable to employers with 50 or more employees. Before qualifying for leave under CFRA, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the prior year and certify that he or she satisfies one of the triggering events for the leave, such as the serious medical condition of a spouse. Leave under CFRA is unpaid and, therefore, an employee who qualifies for such leave may be able to take advantage of the wage replacement benefits under PFL.
Senate Bill 761 would allow an employee of an employer with fewer than 50 employees to request six weeks of leave, regardless of whether the employee worked one day, one week, or one year for the employer. If the employer denies the employee such leave because there is no statutorily mandated leave under which the employee qualifies, such as CFRA, and within temporal proximity to this denial the employee suffers an adverse employment action such as a written warning, the employee could file a lawsuit against the employer claiming discrimination or retaliation.
AB 5 (Ammiano) - Increased Exposure to Frivolous Litigation
Assembly Bill 5 amends the Civil Code to include a section that mandates all individuals, regardless of their actual or perceived housing status, income level, mental illness, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, or citizenship, must have the right to engage in a list of various activities within “public spaces.”
Under AB 5, any person would have the right to sit, sleep, solicit donations, or leave their personal property in a retail establishment that is open to the public as long as such activities do not “substantially” obstruct passageways to the business.
AB 5 creates a private right of action against any person, entity, public entity, or public employer for any violation of these requirements, with statutory damages of at least $1,000 per violation as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
For more information about this legislation affecting you, click here to receive notices about VICA’s Government Affairs Committee.