California legislators have introduced a series of bills that, if enacted, would further expand liability for employers and would significantly increase the cost and risk of doing business in California.  Not surprisingly, the California Chamber of Commerce has labeled these bills “job killers.”

In a related development, California’s unemployment rate hovers at 12.6% — the third highest in the nation.

AB 482 – Restricting the Use of Consumer Credit Reports in Hiring

AB 482 would amend the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act by prohibiting employer from using a consumer credit report “for employment purposes” unless (1) “the information contained in the report is substantially job-related, meaning that the position of the person for whom the report is sought has access to money, other assets, or confidential information” and (2) the position of the person for whom the report is sought is (a) a managerial position; (b) a position in the state Department of Justice; (c) that of a sworn peace officer or other law enforcement position; or (d) a position for which the information contained in the report is required to be disclosed by law or to be obtained by the employer.  (View full text: HTML or PDF.)

AB 2187 – Expanded Employer Liability in Wage Disputes

“Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for a person or employer who, having the ability to pay, willfully refuses to pay wages to due to a current employee, an employee who has resigned, or an employee who has been discharged. Under existing law, an aggrieved employee has the right to restitution for unpaid wages. Existing law also imposes civil penalties against a person or employer who wrongfully fails to pay wages.

This bill would create a separate prohibition against a person or an employer who, having the ability to pay, willfully fails to pay all wages due to an employee who has been discharged or who has quit within 90 days of the date of the wages becoming due and would impose additional criminal penalties for such conduct. The bill would also require a person or employer who violates these provisions to pay restitution in an amount equal to the amount of unpaid wages to the aggrieved employee and prosecution costs, upon conviction becoming final.”  (View full text: HTML or PDF.)

 AB 2727 – Further Limiting Inquiry Into Criminal History of Job Applicants

“Existing law provides that an employer may not ask an applicant for employment to disclose, and an employer may not utilize in an employment-related decision, information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction.

 This bill, in addition, would prohibit an employer from denying an application for employment for the reason that the applicant has previously been convicted of a criminal offense unless the employer determines that there is a direct relationship between the prior conviction and the employment sought or the granting of  employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or persons. This bill would require the employer to consider specified factors when determining whether either of those 2 circumstances exist.”  (View full text: HTML or PDF.)

 SB 810 – California Universal Healthcare Act

“This bill would establish the California Healthcare System to be administered by the newly created California Healthcare Agency under the control of a Healthcare Commissioner appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The bill would make all California residents eligible for specified health care benefits under the California Healthcare System, which would, on a single-payer basis, negotiate for or set fees for health care services provided through the system and pay claims for those services. The bill would provide that a resident of the state with a household income, as specified, at or below 200% of the federal poverty level would be eligible for the type of benefits provided under the Medi-Cal program. The bill would require the commissioner to seek all necessary waivers, exemptions, agreements, or legislation to allow various existing federal, state, and local health care payments to be paid to the California Healthcare System, which would then assume responsibility for all benefits and services previously paid for with those funds.”  (Full text: HTML or PDF.)

AB 2773 – Eliminating Judicial Discretion to Reduce Attorneys’ Fee Awards in FEHA Cases

“Existing law provides that a prevailing party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any action or proceeding, and specifies those items allowable as costs. Existing law provides that costs, or any portion of claimed costs, shall be as determined by the court, in its discretion, in a case other than a limited civil case, if the prevailing party recovers a judgment that could have been rendered in a limited civil case.

This bill would exempt from that latter provision an action brought under a specified provision of the Fair Employment and Housing Act alleging an unlawful practice.”  (Full text): HTML or PDF.)

 AB 1994 – Increased Workers’ Compensation Costs for Hospital Employers

“Existing law provides that an injury of an employee arising out of and in the course of employment is generally compensable through the workers’ compensation system. Existing law provides that, in the case of certain public employees, the term ‘injury’includes heart trouble, hernia, pneumonia, human immunodeficiency virus, lower back impairment, and other injuries and diseases.

This bill would provide, with respect to hospital employees who provide direct patient care in an acute care hospital, that the term ‘injury’ includes a blood-borne infectious disease, neck or back impairment, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), or H1N1 influenza virus that develops or manifests itself during the period of the person’s employment with the hospital.

This bill would further create a rebuttable presumption that the above injury arises out of and in the course of the person’s employment if it develops or manifests as specified.”  (View full text: HTML or PDF.)