This week, the California Chamber of Commerce named two recently introduced bills as 2020 job killers.
The bills are very similar to prior versions also identified as job killers and stopped in the legislative process given the significant policy concerns raised.
• SB 850 (Leyva; D-Chino) is a mandated scheduling requirement. It eliminates worker flexibility and exposes employers to costly penalties, litigation, and government enforcement, by mandating employers in the retail, grocery, or restaurant industry, including employers who have hybrid operations that include a retail or restaurant section, to provide a 21-day work schedule and then face penalties and litigation if the employer changes the schedule with less than 7 days notice.
• SB 873 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) will lead to increased litigation. It exposes businesses to costly litigation for a consumer’s assertion that any price difference on “substantially similar” goods, even a nominal amount, is based on gender and therefore the consumer is entitled to a minimum of $4,000.
SB 850: Mandated Scheduling
The CalChamber has identified SB 850 as a job killer because it will eliminate flexibility in the workplace for both employers and employees, deny employees the opportunity to work additional hours if desired, limit employers’ ability to accommodate customer demands, and subject employers to unnecessary layers of penalties, investigative actions and costly litigation.
The bill is significantly broader than other local ordinances—such as those in San Francisco, Emeryville and Berkeley—that already have limited flexibility for businesses and employees.
SB 850 applies to large and small employers, as well as those who do not engage primarily in selling merchandise or food.
Similar legislation was held on the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File in 2016 (SB 878; Leyva; D-Chino).
SB 873: Increased Litigation
The CalChamber has identified SB 873 as a job killer because it includes a private right of action with a minimum of $4,000 in damages per alleged violation, which will expose small and large businesses to a flurry of costly litigation for claims that two products are substantially similar, even though they may be different, and that any price differential is based on gender, when it is actually based upon legitimate non-gender-related reasons.
The litigation exposure is similar to the construction disability access litigation that has plagued California businesses.
Moreover, in an effort to comply with SB 873, businesses will be forced to engage in gender stereotyping based on traditional social expectations that scholars have urged businesses to avoid.
The bill also will lead to the elimination of discounts, coupons or sales, thereby potentially costing consumers more.
Similar legislation failed to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2019 (SB 320; Jackson; D-Santa Barbara).