California Temp Workers Can Now Sue Employers For Agency Violations

Employers in California will now share liability with their labor contractors for complying with state labor and wage laws, including safety and workers’ compensation laws.

California Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed into law the hotly contested AB 1897, which extends to nearly all employers rules that previously applied to temps and contract workers in the agricultural, construction, and garment industries.

Strongly supported by organized labor, the bill was labeled a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, which sought to rally its members to have the governor veto the bill.

Employers forbidden from shifting liability

The bill gives temps the right to sue the company, rather than the staffing agency, for violations of California labor laws. They must first give the client employer 30 days’ notice of an alleged violation.

In addition, the law forbids employers from shifting liability, meaning the client, as well as the labor provider, could be subject to fines and penalties imposed by the state. The law also empowers state enforcement agencies to demand access to records or other information from either the staffing agency or the employer “to verify compliance with applicable state laws.”

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Discussing the bill with Staffing Industry Analysts prior to it reaching Gov. Brown, Saba Shatara, an attorney at law firm Drinker Biddle, said,:

Employers must now be especially cautious in selecting a staffing agency — and evaluate the agency before partnering with them — in order to limit their risk of retaining non-compliant contractors. When contracting with staffing agencies, employers should also specify remedies against the agency for liability created by the labor contractor’s acts.”

The law doesn’t apply to businesses employing five or fewer temps, or with fewer than 25 total employees. Non-profits and labor groups are also exempt, as are a handful of other employers or contract arrangements.

John Zappe is the former editor of and contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor before transitioning to digital media. In 1994, he launched one of the  first newspaper sites. Before joining ERE Media , John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group where he developed and managed a team of developers, content producers and digital advertising and marketing specialists.

Today, John is a contract writer producing whitepapers, blog posts, thought leadership articles and marketing content and managing  social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing.His website is

In his spare time he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

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