Bloomberg Law Quotes Tim O’Connell on Likely Pushback Against Potential New Laws Modeled on California’s Workplace Litigation Law

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Labor and employment attorney Tim O’Connell was quoted in Bloomberg Law’s Daily Labor Report® in an article titled “Deputizing Workers to Sue Bosses Now in Play Beyond California,” published May 25, 2021. The article discusses efforts in several states to enact legislation akin to California’s Private Attorneys General Act, which gives employees a means to pursue civil penalties on behalf of the state against their companies while avoiding mandatory arbitration agreements that would otherwise prevent their claims from going to court.

Democratic-led lawmakers in New York, Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey are working to enact the new legislation. The proposed laws variously address some of the perceived shortcomings of the California law and narrow the scope of employees they cover.

In 2020, California used the more than in $100.7 million in penalties it collected to hire 13 staff members who will pursue worker misclassification investigations and to launch multilingual campaigns about workers’ rights and wage theft. But a law seen as successful by the state is seen as a “a tool of extortion and abuse” by its businesses, which have continued to challenge it.

Proposals in other states face strong opposition as well, according to O’Connell. “The California statute has really for the business community proven such a nightmare that everywhere someone tries to replicate it, it’s going to be fought pretty hard,” he said.

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