Lobbying for Justice
On March 17, 2015, the Law Office of Glicel Sumagaysay participated in the California Employment Lawyers Association’s (“CELA”) Lobby Day. We lobbied the following bills:
AB 987 (Assembly member Levine): a bill that would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to add that an employer cannot retaliate against or discriminate against a person for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Currently, there is a decision which holds that requesting a reasonable accommodation is not protected activity: Ropes v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc., 220 Cal.App.4th 635 (2013). Therefore, courts have dismissed cases in which employees alleged retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation. The amendment would be in-line with federal law, which already regards a request for a reasonable accommodation as protected activity.
AB 474 (Assembly member Brown): a bill that would provide the same whistleblower retaliation protection that workers in 24-hour acute care facilities have to workers of long-term care facilities. Currently, the law only protects long-term care facility employees if they report patient safety issues and other violations to government agencies.
SB 358 (Senator Jackson): a bill that would eliminate the loopholes in the existing equal pay laws by amending the California Equal Pay Act to (1) ensure employees performing substantially equal work are paid fairly by requiring equal pay for equal work “of comparable character” and remove the “same establishment” requirement that currently prevents an employee in one facility of an employer from comparing her pay to that of an employee in another similar facility; (2) clarify the burdens of proof under the Equal Pay Act; (3) prevent reliance on irrelevant “factors other than sex” to justify unfair pay differentials by replacing the current catch-all defense with specific affirmative defenses; (4) ensure legitimate, non-sex related factors are applied reasonably and account for entire pay differentials; (5) prohibiting retaliation or discrimination against employees who disclose, discuss or inquire about their own or co-workers’ wages. The bill seeks to fix the wage gaps of women’s 84 cents to every man’s $1.00, and Latina women’s 44 cents and African American women’s 64 cents to white men’s $1.00 earned (2013).
AB 1354 (Dodd): this bill also seeks to ensure fair pay among employees by requiring that employers with 100 or more employees submit an income equality program to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) prior to becoming state contractors and subcontractors. The income equality program would consist of summary data on compensation paid to employees, sorted by gender and race.
We also lobbied for court funding, a longstanding and ongoing problem for civil courts, clients, and practitioners.