‘Animal Farm’ Podcast Features Bryan Hawkins on California AB5 and AB2257 and Their Impact on Small Theaters

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Labor and employment attorney Bryan Hawkins was interviewed for City Garage Theatre’s “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests” podcast, air date January 19, 2021. Hawkins and his host discussed the effects on small businesses, in particular performing arts theaters, of California laws AB5 and AB2257, which changed the way employers in the state classify their workers.

AB5, which took effect at the start of 2020, provides a test for determining if independent contractors should be treated as employees of a hiring entity. The law also provides a list of industries and occupations exempt from its requirements, which, after causing much confusion among employers and employees, was extended by AB2257 to provide the exemption to further industries.

The two bills, which were created in part to benefit “gig workers” such as Uber and Lyft drivers, provide an exemption to the test for the music industry and performers but not for small theaters, which if they fully comply with AB5 can be driven out of business by the costs associated with having fulltime employees.

Hawkins believes the addition to AB2257 of an exemption for small businesses, such as theaters, is possible but not imminent – he suggests in the meantime small theaters generate a “groundswell of support for additional exemptions and hope that they pass.”

“The best thing you can do is talk to your lobbyist, if you have any, talk to your representatives … show them why this law in its current form is so harmful to smaller companies, again, knowing the fact that they were not the main target of AB5,” he said.

For more on AB5, AB2257 and other aspects of employment law, see Bryan Hawkins’ posts on Stoel Rives’ World of Employment blog.

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