Future of California Labor Law to Be Decided Next Month
Topics: Legal Information
Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as Governor (aka Governator) in November 2003. If one was to go back and make a list of all the employment and labor law bills that were passed by the California Legislature but vetoed by the Governor since November 2003, the list would be extremely long. The types of bills that were passed by the Senate and Assembly and then vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger are varied. Some bills increased penalties for wage and hour violations or provided for criminal penalties for such violations. Other vetoed bills expanded the scope of whistleblower protections or provided for additional types of activities that would be protected from retaliation under California laws. Some vetoed bills provided for additional employee leave rights. Others would have limited employers on the types of information they could use in the hiring process. Schwarzenegger vetoed bills that would have increased the statute of limitations on certain wage claims. He vetoed a bill that gave protections in the workplace to applicants and employees who use medical marijuana. He vetoed a bill that would have established mandatory penalties for businesses that wilfully misclassify a worker as an independent contractor. He vetoed bills increasing California minimum wage. Schwarzenegger vetoed bills that made it easier for unions to organize. Sufficed to say that Governor Schwarzenegger prevented many pro-employee/pro-union, anti-employer bills from enactment and that if Gray Davis had remained in office or if Phil Angelides had been elected in 2006, the landscape of regulations and laws would be substantially different than they are now.
Despite California's economic woes, things are not likely to change at the Legislature. Our Legislature was just as interested in passing this type of legislation in 2008 and 2009 as they were in the early part of the decade when the economic conditions were more favorable. Given the make-up of the California Legislature, it is likely that many of the bills vetoed by Schwarzenegger will come up in similar format over the next four years. If Meg Whitman is elected as Governor, as a former CEO, it is likely that she, like Schwarzenegger, will serve as a roadblock for legislation of this type. If Jerry Brown is elected, particularly given the support he is getting from many of the state's largest and most influential unions, we should expect that his view of this legislation will be similar to that of former Governor Gray Davis and many of these bills will be signed into law.
Thus, no matter which side of the fence you sit on, you can safely bet that November 2, 2010 may be one of the most important days in dictating what the future holds for California labor and employment law.