CalChamber, Business Opposition Stops Job Killer

JobKillerA California Chamber of Commerce-opposed job killer bill that exposed businesses to costly litigation when goods are “substantially similar,” yet priced differently, was pulled from the hearing schedule this week by the bill’s author.

The bill, SB 899 (Hueso; D-San Diego), sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California, could have subjected businesses to a minimum $4,000 of damages for each violation.

SB 899 intended to force retailers and grocery stores to charge the same price for “male” versus “female” products, which would have required the sellers to either engage in gender stereotyping of consumer goods or increase prices to the highest price for a good of “substantially similar or like kind.” The bill also would have exposed these employers to the same costly, drive-by litigation that has been plaguing businesses in California with regard to disability access.

In testimony before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 21, CalChamber Policy Advocate Jennifer Barrera explained that although SB 899 provided a limited list of “gender-neutral” reasons a good may be priced differently, proof of those reasons would come up only after litigation has already been filed and costs and attorney’s fees incurred.

The committee also delayed voting on SB 899 during the June 21 meeting. At that hearing there was much discussion among the committee members about whether the bill’s language could be amended to deal with their concerns.

July 1 is the deadline for legislative policy committees to meet and report bills.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera took over as president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce on October 1, 2021. She has been part of the CalChamber team since 2010 and stepped into the top position after serving as CalChamber executive vice president, overseeing the development and implementation of policy and strategy for the organization, as well as representing the CalChamber on legal reform issues. Barrera is well-known for her success rate with the CalChamber’s annual list of job killer legislation, efforts to reform the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and leadership working with employers on critical issues, including most recently those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, she advises the business compliance activities of the CalChamber on interpreting changes in employment law. 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. See full bio