Posts Tagged ‘California’

Labor roundup

California lawmakers move against arbitration

By cutting off contractual freedom for pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the workplace, trial lawyers and unions in California intend to pave the way for more and bigger class actions [Dave Roberts, Fox and Hounds] More: Coyote (“Here is how you should think about this proposed law: Attorneys are the taxi cartels, and arbitration is Uber. And the incumbents want their competitor banned.”)

California regulators: Uber driver is employee

And there goes the Uber business model, if the ruling is upheld and extends to other drivers. Coyote predicts that if subject to the burdens now heaped on employers, ride-sharing services will have a hard time of it.

Or, to put it differently: yes, the authorities are prepared to kill any and all innovations that threaten their New Deal fantasy of perfect control. More: Matthew Feeney, Cato; Megan McArdle (“‘Employee’ Label Would End Uber as We Know It”); Timothy Lee [slightly edited Wednesday to reflect clarification in news reports]

Orange County lowers the boom on Axe

“Recently, the consumer protection unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office filed suit against Unilever, parent company of AXE, accusing the company of fudging the packaging of its male grooming products.” The charges, which were filed concomitantly with a proposed settlement the same day, do not claim that Axe misstated the quantity of product contained by weight, but say its packaging employed “false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids or false coverings” which “serve no legitimate purpose and mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the containers. …Apparently, the DA has never purchased a bag of potato chips.” It is unclear from the coverage whether Orange County consumers were constrained from ascertaining how much product was in one of the packages by, say, lifting it to see how heavy it was, or looking at the number of ounces on the label. In settlement (the same day) of the charges, the company agreed to pay $750,000 to Orange County and $24,000 to its D.A.’s office, and to take out ads in various California newspapers with $3 coupons good off a consumer purchase of Axe. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Orange County Register]

The Orange County district attorney’s office under Tony Rackauckas is emerging as an Overlawyered favorite, having knocked an impressive $16 million out of Toyota in the sudden-acceleration affair even though the cars in question do not suddenly accelerate, of which $4 million went to a locally influential tort attorney; the office has also kept mum about arrangements it has with tort attorneys. And of course Rackauckas’s office has lately been embroiled in one of the nation’s most prominent scandals of prosecutorial abuse (with retaliation angle).

P.S. Oh, and here is coverage of “slack fill” class action suits organized by private lawyers against both Unilever/Axe and competitor Procter & Gamble, confirming that this wasn’t exactly a solitary frolic on the county’s part. More: Amy Alkon.

“Legal profession admits undocumented immigrants”

At least in New York and California, if not every state. [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum] Curiously uncontroversial, no? In 2012 we noted: “Among the trip-ups are that lawyers are sworn by oath to uphold the laws of the land; that federal law bars the granting of state professional licenses to illegals; that federal law makes it unlawful to offer employment to them; and that clients might find themselves in a pickle were their attorneys whisked away on zero notice to face deporation.” More: Scott Greenfield.

Environment roundup

California moves to raise smoking age to 21

Which won’t, of course, be the last step as prohibitionists work out the implications of what they call a “tobacco-free” America. But it does at least raise a slogan-atic question: Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, why not old enough to drink and smoke too? [Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, who also reminds us that for all the nostalgic talk of Reagan and individual liberty, Reagan was the one who signed the bill (passed by a GOP Senate) arm-twisting states into putting the drinking age up to 21]

In California law enforcement news…

Authorities in southern California are doubtful about a private fraternal group’s claim of lawful right to wield police jurisdiction over 33 states and Mexico, even though one of its promoters happens to be a deputy director for community affairs in the office of real-life California Attorney General Kamala Harris. “A website claiming to represent their force cites connections to the Knights Templars that they say go back 3,000 years.” [Los Angeles Times] As I’ve often noted about the phenomenon I call “folk law,” just as fantasies about living in past ages never seem to involve being a serf oneself, but always being Cleopatra or a Viking raider, so fantasies about alternative orders of legal legitimacy tend toward giving you the right to arrest other people, rather than vice versa.

“Police Misconduct: A Special Interest with Special Privileges”

Mike Rappaport at Liberty and Law explores how special interest politics contributes to shielding police misconduct, including the role of Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights laws (earlier). More on LEOBR/LEOBoR laws in two articles quoting me: Daniel Menefee, Maryland Reporter/WMAL and other outlets, on prospects for reform of the Maryland law; Kris Ockershauser, Pasadena Weekly, citing coverage last year from Jim Miller of the McClatchy papers on California’s tight restrictions on public access to police disciplinary records, which grew in part out of the state’s enactment of the 1976 Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.

Related: Ross Douthat (New York Times), “Our Police Union Problem“. And for everyone who, like me, has been noticing the parallels between bad cop entrenchment and teacher tenure, Charles Lane wants to call our attention to the pending Supreme Court case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, on dues [Washington Post, earlier and more on Friedrichs]