California Assembly Bill 1897 Took Effect January 1, 2015
Assembly Bill 1897, designed to protect temporary workers from California labor code violations, was originally signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014. The law imposes new joint liability for companies whose labor subcontractors violate wage and workplace safety laws. For example, if a temp agency violates California labor law, the company that hired the temp agency can also be liable for those California employee violations.
Purpose of AB 1897
This new law is designed to address issues that exist in industries that typically outsource their employment to temp agencies and staffing firms. As the Office of Legislative Counsel noted in the bill's preamble, the purpose of AB 1897 is…
[To] require a client employer to share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for all workers supplied by that labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers compensation coverage…[as well as]…prohibit a client employer from shifting to the labor contractor legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions with respect to workers provided by the subcontractor.
In addition to shared liability for violations cited above, Section 2810.3(e) of the bill includes joint liability for client employers who retaliate against workers who either 1) report violations or 2) file civil actions for violations of the law's provisions. In other words, companies who hire staffing agencies to supply cheap labor are legally prohibited from retaliating against those workers when they report workplace safety violations or complain that the agency is not paying them overtime.
30-Day Notice Requirement
Under subsection (d), claimants under the new law are required to notify the client employer of any violation at least thirty (30) days prior to filing any civil action. Requiring such notice was meant to satisfy pundits of the bill who feared the law would stifle business and economic growth. However, by requiring a thirty-day notice, client employers are provided the opportunity to remedy the situation without being hastily called into court.
AB 1897 undoubtedly holds client employers to a higher standard. However, prior to the bill, it was only illegal for a person or company to enter into a contract with a temp agency or staffing firm if the company or person knew that the contract would not provide sufficient funds to ensure employees were properly paid.
Employees who are not paid at least the legally mandated minimum may file a lawsuit–not only against the staffing agency that hired them, but also against the company they were contracted with which to work. AB 1897 also makes it possible for the state to go after larger companies whose staffing agency with which they contract employment to violate the law.
To further discuss the latest in employment law, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley; we are located in Encino, California (Los Angeles Co.). Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.