Workers Comp Zone

AB 1450

Various workers’ comp bills have ben introduced in the legislature. I’ll be covering them soon, and following them as the legislative season progresses.

But today is the time to shine a spotlight on a deserving bill that might just help unemployed injured workers and victims of the economic downturn alike.

It’s AB 1450.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Michaell Allen (D-Santa Rosa), the bill would prohibit discrimination against the unemployed.

The bill seeks to address the sort of discrimination which arises when employers discourage the unemployed from applying for jobs. There have been a number of reports of hiring companies requiring that applicants currently have a job.

These sorts of policies obviously add to the burden of seeking employment and disadvantage those who stopped working because of an injury, a pregnancy, a family emergency, or who were laid off due to the down economy.

Employment status would be added to other criteria (such as race, gender, religion etc) which are protected criteria in hiring decisions.

A number of other states have adopted such laws, including New Jersey.

Business groups will likely oppose the legislation, and it’s not currently clear whether the Brown Administration will support the concept.

Writing in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, staff writer Jack Katzanek notes that:
“A paper published in July 2011 by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group that supports employment rights for lower-wage workers, researched four of the most common-used job-search web sites and found 150 listings that expressly ruled out applicants based on their current employment status. Most used phrases such as “must be currently employed.” Some said they or the companies they were headhunting for would accept someone who was recently employed.Most of the listings NELP cited were employment agencies but also included companies such as Allstate Insurance, investment and asset management company Greenstreet Real Estate Partners and Johns Hopkins University. and were the locations of three-quarters of these listings, NELP found.”

Here is the legislative counsel’s digest of the current version of the bill (note that amendments are likely):
“AB 1450, as amended, Allen. Employment: discrimination: status as unemployed.
Existing law contains provisions that define unlawful discrimination and employment practices by employers and employment agencies.
This bill would make it unlawful, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification or any other provision of law, for an employer to knowingly or intentionally refuse to consider for employment or refuse to offer employment to an individual because of the individual’s status as unemployed, publish, an employment agency, or a person who operates an Internet Web site for posting jobs in this state to take specified employment actions relating to employment status, as defined, including, among other things, refusing to hire a person because of that person’s employment status and publishing an advertisement orannouncement for any job that includes provisions pertaining to an individual’s current employment or employment status as unemployed, as specified, or direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in screening or referring applicants for employment, as specified.
The bill would also make it unlawful, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification or any other provision of law, for an employment agency to knowingly or intentionally refuse to consider or refer an individual for employment because of the individual’s status as unemployed, limit, segregate, or classify individuals in any manner that may limit their access to information about jobs or referral for consideration of jobs because of their status as unemployed, or publish an advertisement or announcement, as described above with respect to employers.
This bill would subject an employer or, an employment agency, or a person who operates an Internet Web Site for posting jobs in this state who violates the above provisions to civil penalties that increase as the number of violations increase. The bill would state that it shall not be construed to create a private cause of action, as specified.
The State Contract Act governs contracting between state agencies and private contractors, and sets forth requirements for the procurement of materials, supplies, equipment, and services by state agencies.
This bill would provide that failure to comply with the requirements of the bill would constitute a breach of the contract and may be grounds for canceling, terminating, or suspending the contract, as specified, and debarring the contractor from eligibility for an award of future state agency contracts for a period not to exceed 3 years, as specified.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.”

Unless there is a change, there will be a hearing on the bill March 28 at the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee at the Capitol.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments