Governor Vetoes Anti–Employer LegislationWinter 2009 – Newsletters California Update - Employment Law
Governor Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a raft of bills passed by the state legislature that would have added to the legal and regulatory burdens of California employers. The vetoed bills include:
- SB 1113 Incentive to Sue. Would have expanded rewards to plaintiffs for costs of litigation stemming from private attorney general actions while providing no cost recovery for defendants when actions are found to be baseless.
- AB 2279 Employee Safety. Would have curtailed employers' right to maintain drug-free workplace policies and exposed employers to potential litigation by prohibiting employers from refusing to hire applicants or fire current workers because they use medical marijuana.
- AB 2386 Agricultural Labor. Would have eliminated the requirement for secret-ballot elections for union representation among farm employees, and created a new, unsupervised process called a mediated election.
- SB 840 Government Health Care. Would have created a new government-run health care system financed from an unspecified tax increase.
- SB 1115 Workers' Comp. Would have increased workers' compensation costs and rolled back the reforms from 2004 by making apportionment very difficult to prove.
- SB 1717 Workers' Comp. Would have increased workers' compensation costs and rolled back reforms by arbitrarily doubling permanent disability benefits and altering the 15 percent up/down provision in current law.
- AB 437 Increased Employer Exposure. Could have resulted in significant new liability exposure for employers by stating that the Legislature rejects U.S. Supreme Court decisions that provided clear limits on statues of limitation for lawsuits relating to employer decisions.
- AB 1583 Independent Contractors. Would have established new penalties and liability for independent contractor misclassification by creating joint and several liability penalizing advisors who work with businesses on determining worker status.
- AB 2918 Credit Reports. Would have unduly restricted the ability of businesses to use legally available information in employment decisions, including consumer credit reports.
- AB 3063 Employment Decisions. Would have prohibited employers from asking applicants to disclose prior criminal convictions, which could impact an employer's hiring decisions.
- SB 1661 Unemployment Insurance. Would have created a new eligibility requirement for employees to receive unemployment insurance benefits financed by increased employer contributions to the UI trust fund.
These examples of misguided legislation are a stark reminder that a majority of the California Legislature still clings to the false dichotomy of "workers vs. the company," and fails to understand that one cannot really be "pro employee" unless one is also "pro employer." Last time we looked, the only folks providing jobs to employees were the employers.
The next governor – Jerry Brown? Bill Lockyear? John Garamendi? Dianne Feinstein? – may be much less inclined to pick up the veto pen. Employers beware.