For more than fifty years, CAOC has championed workplace rights in California.
Over the decades, working Californians have fought at the state and federal level to earn workplace rights. Now it’s the job of consumer attorneys to defend those rights: to meal and rest breaks; to a minimum wage; to overtime pay; to a workplace free from sexual harassment; to a workplace where all employees are treated fairly regardless of their race, gender, religion, age or disabilities.
CAOC is backing AB 465 (Hernandez), which fixes a persistent problem: Employers often include “forced arbitration” as a condition of employment, resulting in workers being fired or not hired if they don’t give up rights to resolve disputes in court. This important measure ensures worker consent if forced arbitration is a provision of employment. The measure is sponsored by the California Labor Federation partnered with CAOC. Fact Sheet (PDF)
In years past, Consumer Attorneys of California has fought to protect landmark employment legislation, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits the use of salary as the basis for differentiating between employees when terminating employment if the use of those criteria adversely impacts older workers as a group. We fought to overturn Marks v. Loral (pdf), and thus give individuals the right to sue in cases of age discrimination.
CAOC has also worked to block legislation pushed by the corporate lobby that would not be in the best interest of employees. For example, one proposal would have forced plaintiffs to choose: either force a company to stop discriminating, or receive financial compensation for such discrimination, but not both. We have killed bills that were designed to restrict the penalties on employers who violate labor standards.
A growing concern is employers requiring workers to forfeit their legal rights as a condition of employment. By signing agreements that require disputes to go to arbitration rather than be resolved through the civil justice system, employees give up their right to have their grievances heard by a citizen jury and an impartial judge. Workplace rights that were won after struggles in the legislative branch aren’t worth much if they can’t be upheld by the judicial branch.