LABOR + EMPLOYMENT

A Voice for the Low-Wage Workers in the State Capitol

The Labor and Employment project carries out policy-oriented research and farm  worker field surveys, conducts legislative and administrative advocacy in the wage & hour, unemployment insurance, and farm worker law areas, both at the state and federal levels, and provides training, technical assistance and advocacy support to California legal services programs.

 

The project’s chief objectives are:

  • To expand state labor laws affecting the rights of farm workers and other low-wage workers

  • To improve and reform state labor law enforcement efforts, particularly in the underground economy

  • To take a leadership role in opposing legislative or regulatory efforts to weaken new or existing labor rights that impact low-wage workers, and especially farm workers and their families

  • To undertake related legal and public policy research, education and media efforts

  • To initiate training of advocates, attorneys and agency staff about CRLA Foundation-sponsored labor laws

  • To monitor guest worker admissions into California under the federal H-2A program

  • To participate in national advocacy efforts around guest worker programs and farm worker legalization

 

The project’s non-lobbying activities are, and have been for many years, generously supported by the Rosenberg Foundation.

The Labor and Employment Law Project is directed by CRLAF’s Deputy Director and Legislative Director, Mark Schacht. A 25 year veteran of Capitol Hill and Sacramento with a long track record of successful legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of low-wage immigrant workers, and particularly farm workers.

email@markschacht.com or 510-812-5399

A Track Record of Success

CRLAF sponsored, co-sponsored, or was instrumental in passing the following bills, including the Labor Code's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

 

This landmark legislation creates a private right of action to enforce California labor law provisions previously reserved for enforcement solely by the state. CRLAF wrote the first draft and co-sponsored the original bill (SB 796) with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Employers immediately made strenuous efforts to completely repeal PAGA once it took effect. This effort fueled a budget stalemate that was only resolved after extensive negotiations that led to the enactment of a subsequent bill (SB 1809) which preserved the thrust of PAGA, while requiring administrative exhaustion before a right to sue would vest. [Chaptered Bill Text of SB 796Complete Legislative History of SB 796.  Chaptered Bill Text of SB 1809.  Complete Legislative History of SB 1809.]

Current Work

May 31, 2017

State Senate just passed CRLAF 's SB 295, 27-9, increased state and private enforcement remedies for FLCs' sexual harassment prevention training violations.

CRLAF sponsors SB 295 (Monning), which calls for greater transparency in the sexual harassment prevention training required for farm workers by SB 1087 (Monning; 2014) and also addresses recent concerns about non-compliance by some farm labor contractors (FLCs).

Background:...

April 21, 2017

All too often we hear about immigrant and mixed status families being taken advantage of -- paying thousands of dollars to unscrupulous individuals that make promises they cannot keep and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. 

In an effort to stop these abuses, CRLAF, one of the few legal services organizations providing free legal services in rural California, is co-sponsoring AB 638 (Caballero).  

“This bill...

April 4, 2017

CRLAF sponsors SB 295 (Monning), which calls for greater transparency in the sexual harassment prevention training required for farm workers by SB 1087 (Monning; 2014) and also addresses recent concerns about non-compliance by some farm labor contractors (FLCs).

Background: CRLAF sponsored SB 1087 in response to farm worker lawsuits and administrative claims that revealed shocking instances of sexual harassment, including rape,...

March 16, 2017

CRLAF sponsors AB 978 (Limón), which upgrades California’s basic workplace safety program by giving workers the right to receive a physical or electronic copy of the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). The Division of Occupational Safety and Health will enforce this obligation.

Under AB 978 a current worker to receive, within five business days of a written request, a free physical or electronic copy of the...

March 13, 2017

Under AB 281, an employer who steals minimum wages from hundreds of workers can be caught red-handed but will still be able to avoid any penalty for his or her wrongdoing

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2015

Combating Wage Theft -- AB970

CRLAF was the sponsor of AB 970 (Nazarian), which closed gaps in the Labor Commissioner’s legal authority that precluded her from issuing citations to employers for two increasingly common underground economy wage theft violations: illegal deductions made from workers’ wages for tools or equipment, and payment of sub-minimum wages below levels mandated by applicable local ‘living wage’ laws. Not only has AB 970 increased the likelihood that more workers victimized by unscrupulous employers will actually recover their stolen wages as a result of a Labor Commissioner workforce-wide investigation and citation process for these two violations, but AB 970 will also reduces state costs associated with the remedying of these violations through individual Berman hearings or civil lawsuits. [Chaptered Bill TextLegislative History.]

2014

Preventing Sexual Harassment -- SB 1087

SB 1087 attacks a widespread culture of sexual harassment of farm worker women by FLCs and their supervisors through a combination of mandatory annual sexual harassment prevention training and testing of licensees; annual training of their supervisors; and by training of farm workers in how to prevent, identify and report sexual harassment. The bill also makes more than a dozen other needed changes to the state Farm Labor Contractor Act, including authorizing the Labor Commissioner to take adverse license actions against sexual predators. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

Penalties for Employers' Failure to Pay Wages on Time -- AB 1723

AB 1723 requires the Labor Commissioner, when she cites for a minimum wage violation, to also determine whether workers are owed ‘waiting time’ penalties for an employer’s failure to pay all wages when due. The bill has major financial implications for farm workers and other low wage workers, whose unpaid minimum wages are often far less than any applicable ‘waiting time’ penalties. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

Joint + Several Liability for Wage Theft --AB 1897

AB 1897 makes most California employers (including growers) jointly and severally liable for their labor contractors’ wage theft and worker’s compensation violations for the first time under California law. (CRLA Foundation has unsuccessfully pursued similar legislation in the past that would have applied only to growers and their FLCs.) AB 1897 was sponsored by the state Labor Federation, the Teamsters, and the UFCW. CRLA Foundation was a significant partner in testimony before key committees, and in lobbying for passage and a signature for the bill.  [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

2013

Successorship Liability for Wage Theft -- SB168

SB 168 dramatically revises successorship liability law to greatly strengthen legal protections for farm workers against Farm Labor Contractors’ wage theft, which is often committed as part of a fraudulent shutdown of their contracting business. [Chaptered Bill Text and complete Legislative History.]

Immediate Recovery of Unpaid Minimum Wages -- AB 442

AB 442 requires the Labor Commissioner, when she issues a citation for a minimum wage violation, to also recover liquidated damages for victimized workers in an amount equal to the total amount of their unpaid minimum wages. This is another bill which puts money directly in the pockets of aggrieved low wage workers victimized by wage theft. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

Mandated Heat Stress Recovery Period -- SB 435

SB 435 expands protections for California workers in five outside industries who request, but are denied, heat stress-related cool down ‘recovery periods’. SB 435 generally treats heat stress-related cool down recovery periods the same way daily rest periods are treated under the Labor Code: Employers in the five covered outside industries would be prohibited from requiring workers to perform any work during any heat stress recovery period and, if the employer failed to provide such a recovery period upon a worker’s request, the employer would have to pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that a recovery period was not provided. Workers could pursue these claims either in court or in an administrative wage claim hearing. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

Criminal Penalties for Withholdings Theft with PAGA Enforcement -- SB 390

SB 390 creates new Labor Code criminal penalties on employers who deduct, and then steal, workers’ paycheck withholdings, and also creates for the first time in state law a state cause of action (under the PAGA, discussed below) to attack this kind of unscrupulous employer conduct. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

2012

License Requirement for Farm Labor Contractor, PAGA Enforcement Option -- AB 1675

AB 1675 imposes stiff civil penalties on persons who operate as a farm labor contractor without first securing an FLC license. Farm workers aggrieved by actions of an unlicensed farm labor contractor can collect penalties in a PAGA civil law suit, provided the State of California does not pursue the violation itself.[Chaptered Bill Text.]

Right to Employment Records Upon Request -- AB 2674

AB 1675 imposes stiff civil penalties on persons who operate as a farm labor contractor without first securing an FLC license. Farm workers aggrieved by actions of an unlicensed farm labor contractor can collect penalties in a PAGA civil law suit, provided the State of California does not pursue the violation itself.[ Chaptered Bill Text.AB 2674 requires employers, for the first time under California law, to provide current and former employees, or their representatives, with a copy of their employment-related personnel records, which are often a vital first step in determining the merits of a worker’s claim of retaliation. This bill was vetoed once before, and represents a victory for worker advocates ‘staying the course’ to get relief in this important area. [Chaptered Bill Text.]

Guidance in Defining "suffers injury" for Employer's Failure to Provide Itemized Pay Stubs -- SB 1255

SB 1255 resolved longstanding conflicts over whether a worker “suffers injury” when an employer fails to provide him or her with a complete and accurate itemized pay statement as required by state law. CRLAF negotiated a compromise with trial lawyers, unions, and business interests which provides the courts with a better roadmap in how to interpret employer violations of these critical worker protections in the future. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

2011

Itemized Wage Statements Required -- AB 243

AB 243  enacted over the strong opposition of California agriculture, requires farm labor contractors to provide their farm worker employees with an itemized wage statement which discloses all of the names and addresses of every entity (i.e., growers or other FLCs) to whom the farm worker was supplied during the pay period. [Chaptered Bill Text.]

Berman Hearings Available for Minimum Wage Violations -- AB 240

AB 240 requires the state labor commissioner to allow workers not paid the minimum wage to recovery minimum wage liquidated damages in a Berman administrative wage claim hearing, which parallels rights they have if they pursue such a claim in a civil action. This is a critical advance for low wage workers whose only avenue to redress wage theft is a Berman hearing (because their individual wage claim is too small to be taken by a private attorney or a legal services law firm). [Chaptered Bill Text.]

Omnibus Wage Theft Statute -- AB 469

AB 469 enacted an omnibus wage theft statute with many new Labor Code protections aimed particularly at vulnerable low wage immigrant workers laboring in the underground economy; CRLA Foundation wrote first draft and co-sponsored the bill with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. [Chaptered Bill Text.]

Additional Noteworthy CRLAF Sponsored Legislation

Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) -- SB 796 and SB 1809

Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) This landmark legislation creates a private right of action to enforce California labor law provisions previously reserved for enforcement solely by the state. CRLA Foundation wrote the first draft and co-sponsored the original bill (SB 796) with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Employers immediately made strenuous efforts to completely repeal the PAGA once it took effect. This effort fueled a budget stalemate that was only resolved after extensive negotiations led to enactment of a subsequent bill (SB 1809) which preserved the thrust of PAGA, while requiring administrative exhaustion before a right to sue would vest. [Chaptered Bill Text of SB 796. Complete Legislative History of SB 796.  Chaptered Bill Text of SB 1809.  Complete Legislative History of SB 1809.]

 

Financial Responsible Labor Contractor -- SB 179

The Financially Responsible Labor Contractor Act (SB 179) This groundbreaking statute, opposed by dozens of employer groups in the Legislature, makes entities liable when they knowingly entered into a financially insufficient contract for labor or services in five underground economy industries. CRLA Foundation wrote first draft and co-sponsored the bill with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. A prior version was vetoed. [Chaptered Bill TextComplete Legislative History.]

CONTACT US

info@crlaf.org

 

Sacramento 916-446-7904

Fresno         559-486-6278

2210 K Street, Suite 201

Sacramento, CA 95816

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