Senate to Consider Expanding Authority for Labor Commissioner Investigations


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. Hernández; 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 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