Legal Affairs – Major Victories
A Record of Success in Court
Over the years, the CalChamber has lent its voice to court cases related to the general conduct of business, employee relations, taxation, litigation reform and commercial free speech. The CalChamber’s logic prevailed in court decisions:
- Granting a request to review a trial court decision to clarify whether rounding employees’ timecard entries is legal.
- Applying a commonsense timeline for workers’ compensation benefits adjustments. The California Supreme Court agreed with the CalChamber that cost-of-living adjustments should be calculated starting the January 1 following the date an injured worker first becomes entitled to receive and begins receiving benefit payments.
- Preventing added liability for employers by upholding the policy rationale behind Proposition 51, the ballot initiative voters approved by a wide margin in 1986 following a CalChamber-led campaign, providing that parties to a lawsuit should pay no more than their percentage of fault for non-economic damages.
- Upholding the Governor’s ability to control spending. The CalChamber joined three former governors in filing a friend-of-the-court brief leading to a ruling upholding the Governor’s ability to reduce or eliminate appropriations through the line item veto power.
- Protecting businesses from abusive lawsuits. CalChamber presented arguments to the California Supreme Court in support of narrowing the scope of who may file class action lawsuits.
- Protecting employer free speech. The CalChamber successfully brought an action that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a state statute restricting the employer’s right to communicate with employees about unionization (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. Brown).
- Clarifying state law for employers. CalChamber presented to the California Supreme Court arguments supporting the court’s decision that supervisors cannot be held personally liable for personnel actions alleged to be motivated by a desire to retaliate against the employee under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines).
- Protecting workers’ compensation reforms:
- The California Court of Appeal upheld limited use of the pre-reform permanent disability rating schedule, thereby preventing erosion of the CalChamber-supported cost-saving reforms of 2004.
- The California Supreme Court determined that in apportioning responsibility for a workers’ compensation permanent disability award, employers are responsible only for the percentage of an employee’s disability due to the current workplace injury for which the permanent disability award applies.
- The 1st District Court of Appeal published a decision establishing how to determine whether evidence in the case record supports the use of the permanent disability rating schedule adopted as part of the CalChamber-supported reforms.
- Upholding the state high school exit exam as a tool to ensure high school students acquire basic skill in English and math.
- Preserving the intent of the voters in enacting CalChamber-supported Proposition 64 to help curb frivolous lawsuits by requiring that all members of a class action lawsuit must have suffered actual injury in order to participate in the legal action.
- Upholding the ability of California governments to complete public works projects efficiently by contracting with private sector companies to augment public sector capabilities.
The Legal Affairs Department reviews and participates in court cases having a broad impact on California’s economy and business climate.
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