Angry Business Voices Ask: “Who’s the Boss?”

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Feeling the affects regulations impose on business, angry business leaders attending the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) inaugural meeting in Los Angeles last week had a simple question: “Who’s the boss?” Is the employer still in charge or has government taken over the boss’s role?

One employer said the minimum wage increase put through by the city of Los Angeles means Mayor Eric Garcetti gives workers a raise. “Why should employees work harder if they know they will be getting a raise next year anyway?”

Employers complained that they are not sure who they are hiring any longer because the legislature restricts what can be asked about potential employees history including arrest records.

But try to fire an employee and there are many hoops to jump through and lawyers to dodge.

The issue of Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) lawsuits and workers compensation costs received much attention. Los Angeles, the business leaders were told, has the highest workers compensation rates in the country. Employers are now being challenged with post termination workers compensation claims so many employers are afraid to terminate an employee no matter how poorly they are doing.

With the PAGA lawsuits roping in all employees even if they choose to opt out of a lawsuit filed against a company, employers say they are at risk of one error that can be multiplied many times and cost companies a fortune. Fines against companies usually comes back to bite employees who gain a small share of any awards while companies have been known to cut back on traditional safety or holiday bonuses to handle the payoff.

As one can imagine, lawyers bringing the lawsuits make out fine.

Some owners discussed how labor laws do not allow flexible work schedules and many requirements to document all activity so as to avoid legal difficulties leads to employees being treated like robots.

In sum, considering that hiring rules are restrictive, some raises in essence are ordered by government, firings can be treacherous for the employer, and the threat of lawsuits is plentiful, it is little wonder the business owners question if they are in charge of their own companies.

The small business and manufacturing business owners spoke to representatives from offices of the Assembly, Congress, the Governor and the Mayor who attended the meeting.

The anger boiled to a point that suggested a protest that seems to be making the rounds.

Recall the movie, “A Day Without a Mexican,” which questioned what America would be like without undocumented workers?

The movie and its allegorical protest mechanism made an appearance at the CABIA meeting. One business leader suggested to the group that businesses can make the point of how they suffer under government regulations and mandates by closing down for a week or two. A week without business ought to open some eyes to how valuable business is to the community and how it is being damaged by over regulation and lawsuits.

If changes don’t come, the speaker suggested, businesses will simply leave the state or close down, not for a week, but permanently.

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