Senate to Consider Expanding Authority for Labor Commissioner Investigations

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Legislation expanding the authority of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to investigate and cite an employer for alleged retaliation, even without an employee complaint, is due to be considered by the Senate.

The California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of employer groups are opposing AB 2261 (R. Hern√°ndez; D-West Covina) because it disrupts the workplace and creates the potential for harassment and abuse against employers by subjecting employers to random investigations for alleged employee retaliation even when there are no employee complaints of retaliation.

Currently, Labor Code Section 98.7 sets forth a detailed process regarding how the Labor Commissioner handles employee complaints for alleged retaliation. The procedures have safeguards for all parties involved to ensure that there is adequate opportunity to present evidence in a timely and efficient manner and pursue an appeal or litigation if necessary.

Although recent amendments to AB 2261 appear to incorporate time restrictions about events that may be considered for purposes of retaliation, the bill still allows the Labor Commissioner to unilaterally initiate an investigation of an employer, even when no employee has submitted a complaint.

The CalChamber and coalition are concerned with the potential harassment, disruption, and strain this will impose on employers to be constantly subjected to random investigations for alleged retaliation.

The Labor Code already provides numerous anti-retaliation provisions that protect an employee against any adverse employment action for exercising rights under the Labor Code.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera
About Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera, senior policy advocate, works with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy and represents the CalChamber on labor and employment, taxation and legal reform issues. Before joining the CalChamber in September 2010, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. She also advised small and large businesses on compliance issues, presented seminars on employment-related topics, and authored articles in human resources publications. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law.