The California Legislature is expected to vote on a measure in the coming days that attempts to shift accountability in a subcontractor relationship by unfairly holding California employers liable for the wage and hour violations of subcontractors — despite the lack of control that California employers can exert over third parties.
Known as Assembly Bill 1897 and authored by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D–West Covina, the bill is a reckless attempt at lawmaking that will have a drastic impact on our state’s economy, particularly on our agricultural industry.
The bill is opposed by California businesses and organizations throughout the state. Almost every California industry comes under fire with AB 1897, including construction, agriculture, hospitals, restaurants, newspapers, retailers, food processors, and banks.
California’s Department of Finance also opposes the measure, noting that it will result in unbudgeted state costs. In fact, the Department of Finance warned the bill would also expose California employers to liability for Labor Code violations committed by other employers, cutting incentives for businesses to operate in California and leading to businesses either closing or downsizing.
AB 1897 will discourage the use of contractors and their employees. And it will not prevent labor violations from happening. The only thing that it will do is allow bad-actor employers to shift liability to a company that did not create the violation, know of the violation or have the ability to prevent the violation.
What’s more, the bill allows an employee to file a lawsuit against the third-party company only, without first seeking to obtain relief from their actual employer for the alleged violations. The employer who created the violations should be the first in line of responsibility.
Essentially, AB 1897 sweeps up countless law-abiding companies in the pursuit of a few bad actors. Laws are already on the books for such issues and piling on another law is irresponsible. Unfairly holding innocent California employers liable for actions they cannot control is the wrong approach. As a California job-creator and agricultural leader, I am calling our state elected officials, particularly those who represent the rich and diverse San Joaquin region, to vote no on AB 1897.
Vino Farms Vice President