Three California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bills virtually identical to previously vetoed proposals were approved by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee this week.
Passed with support from the five Democratic members of the committee were:
• AB 9 (Reyes; D-San Bernardino) unnecessarily extends the statute of limitations from one year to three years for all discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The CalChamber requests that AB 9 be amended to apply only to sexual harassment claims and explicitly address the retroactivity concerns. With these amendments, AB 9 could achieve its goal of providing sexual harassment victims with additional time to exhaust their administrative remedy, without overburdening DFEH and employers with additional litigation.
• AB 170 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) expands joint liability for labor contractors to all employment-related harassment claims. This proposed mandate ignores and disrupts current law that already provides liability for harassment claims for third parties.
There is no basis for holding a business that contracts for services statutorily liable for the harassment of another’s employees when there is no way in which that contractor can engage or force a labor contract company to comply with provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or the Labor Code.
• AB 171 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) places additional and duplicative sexual harassment protections in the Labor Code. Because those protections already are included in FEHA, AB 171 exposes employers to additional liability, including Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims.
AB 171 unnecessarily expands employer liability. FEHA already allows victims who prevail in a sexual harassment retaliation lawsuit to obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. If sexual harassment protection is added to the Labor Code, employers are not only exposed to FEHA remedies, but also lawsuits under PAGA.
AB 9 will be considered next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, while AB 170 and AB 171 will go to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.