New Law Seeks to Encourage Higher Wages Through the Public Shaming of Employers

One of the more interesting laws to emerge from the 2014 legislative session was Assembly Bill 1792. AB 1792 amends and adds sections to the Government Code, Unemployment Insurance Code and Welfare and Institutions Code. Specifically, the law requires the State of California to compile information on the use of public assistance programs, including the average cost of state and federally funded benefits provided to each individual receiving benefits. “Public assistance program” is defined specifically as the Medi-Cal program. Beginning in January of 2016, the law requires the state to post on the Internet a list of the top 500 employers that employ public assistance beneficiaries in California. “Employer” is defined as employing 100 or more beneficiaries. “Beneficiary” is defined as anyone enrolled for six months or more in any public assistance program and who is employed for one quarter, excluding any seniors or disabled persons. In addition to requiring the posting of this list, the law prohibits any employer from discriminating or retaliating against beneficiaries and further prohibits the employer from disclosing an employee’s participation in a public assistance program. AB 1792 has a sunset provision which states that the law will expire on January 1, 2020.

AB 1792 is a creative effort by the state assembly to address a growing problem in California. Specifically, California has the highest number of poor working families in the country. These are families that have income at well below the federal poverty line, which is currently $24,250 for a family of 4 living in the contiguous United States. The assembly perceives that employers who employ participants in public assistance programs are in fact shifting part of the cost of doing business to taxpayers in the State of California. It will be interesting to see how taxpayers react to the public shaming of these employers.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2015.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department, at (310) 281-6348.

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