Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
The state Employment Development Department — the Sacramento agency charged with connecting job seekers and employers — is proposing new regulations that could open wider the Pandora’s box of litigation business owners already deal with day in and day out.
The EDD has already closed the comment period for its proposal to make participation mandatory on its Occupational Employment Statistics Program survey.
The survey is a byproduct of federal and state cooperation, where Bureau of Labor Statistics officials designate employers to be surveyed by the EDD. These often time-consuming surveys — which are currently voluntary — ask employers to match their own job titles to standardized job titles designated by the feds, and ask for a brief description of duties for each position.
As outlined by the California Chamber of Commerce, which is opposing the proposal, making these surveys mandatory opens the door for attorneys to sniff out potential problems from the publicly available information, and use it to threaten and harass employers about their workforce, pay and other perceived inequities.
Even though the agency is required to hold the identity of the reporting employer, there is no explicit protection if the request for information comes via the state’s Public Records Act, according to CalChamber
“Making this information public could put the reporting employers at a competitive disadvantage and circumvent the discovery process in litigation,” according to Marti Fisher with the CalChamber.
Instead of making the survey mandatory, business groups are asking EDD to explore the reason why voluntary participation has been so lackluster. That would be the logical road before mandated reporting that could make the state’s employers that much more vulnerable to the state’s labor attorneys.
The CalChamber is not even clear on how this proposal would roll out. No public hearing on the regulations is set, and the public comment period closed on Nov. 20. The EDD can revise the proposed regulations and open another comment period, withdraw the regulation or adopt it as is. Once a regulation is adopted, the agency must provide a response to all public comments which will be made public.