Yesterday CalChamber announced its Job Creator list – identifying 11 bills that will stimulate the economy and improve California’s job climate. The Job Creator bills identified would provide tax incentives for businesses to stay in California and create jobs here, provide necessary funding for students to obtain career training and education so that they are prepared for the workforce, and reducing frivolous litigation for unintentional mistakes that create no harm to an employee or consumer. Sounds good right?
Two Job Creators that would have reduced frivolous litigation against employers were heard in Assembly Labor Committee yesterday. Both bills would have reformed California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that has created a litigation nightmare for employers in California and a windfall for trial attorneys. One brave employer attended the hearing to tell his story about PAGA (see video below) and the destruction it has caused to his company as well as his employees. The employer considered bankruptcy for a paperwork error that created no harm to the employee and no loss of wages. Instead of sailing out of committee, the bill was voted down based upon opposition that included the trial attorneys.
Two more Job Creators that would have given employees the ability to make their own decisions regarding their work schedules also didn’t fare well in Assembly Labor Committee. AB 2482 would have allowed employees to pick their schedules and decide if they want to work four 10-hour days or five 8-hour days each week. AB 2509 would have allowed an employee to waive their meal period so the employee could leave work early. AB 2482 got postponed and AB 2509 got pulled from committee because it did not have enough votes.
But, not all is lost for Job Creators. The Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media passed by unanimous, bi-partisan support AB 1734 (Calderon) that extends the film tax credit so that production companies will continue to base their productions here in California instead of other states vying for their business. AB 1734 will next be heard by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.
And, now for the bad. Three more Job Killers identified today. These additional bills harm consumers and businesses. AB 2613 imposes another layer of Labor Code penalties for wage and hour violations in addition to the penalties already available under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and imposes personal liability onto employees who have no control over the actual payment of wages. AB 2384, along with previously identified AB 3087 will significantly increase health care costs and/or limit accessibility to healthcare. SB 1121 is basically a trial attorney’s dream. It eliminates any procedural hurdles trial attorneys may have to pursue claims against companies that experience a data breach and presumes automatic statutory damages, even when a consumer has suffered no harm.