The California Chamber of Commerce has added AB 647 (Holden; D-Pasadena), a bill dealing with conditions related to change in ownership for grocery stores, to the 2023 Job Killer list. If passed, the bill would create a new private right of action and add potentially significant new penalties on grocery employers.
AB 647 expands the list of eligible grocery workers covered by worker retention and private right of action conditions to include a newly-defined “separated employee.” The broad definition of “separated employee” includes any employee employed by a grocer impacted by a change in ownership that was employed for six months or more in the 12 months preceding the change in store control and whose most recent separation was due to change in control, lack of business, reduction in force, or transfer. Employee separation occurs for many reasons, including by choice. Under AB 647 grocers would have to reenlist “separated employees” within an arbitrary 15-mile radius of their residence, even if that employee separated by choice. The bill ties a grocer employer’s hands in hiring decisions, which may negatively impact current grocery employees during the transition period.
AB 647 creates a private right of action by granting employees, collective bargaining representatives and nonprofit corporations the right to bring action in superior court for violations of an employee’s right. The bill has a broad list of remedies including, hiring and reinstatement rights, front pay or back pay for each day during which the violation continues, the value of the benefits the employee would have received under any benefit plans, and attorney’s fees and costs to any employee or employee representative.
The bill also creates a rebuttable presumption that any employee’s termination within a year of change of ownership was due to nondisciplinary reasons.
The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) is the largest broad-based business advocate to government in California. Membership represents one-quarter of the private sector jobs in California and includes firms of all sizes and companies from every industry within the state. Leveraging our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations, we provide products and services to help businesses comply with both federal and state law. CalChamber, a not-for-profit organization with roots dating to 1890, promotes international trade and investment in order to stimulate California’s economy and create jobs. Please visit our website at www.calchamber.com.