In the frenzy of last-minute bill signing this month, Gov. Gray Davis quietly added his signature to SB 796 with little fanfare.
There was no signing ceremony, not even a signing message accompanying the enactment of the employment legislation.
Business leaders, however, lambaste the new law, which allows workers to sue their employers over wage and labor code violations. They argue it could have far-reaching financial consequences to employers across the state and be more costly than the landmark employee health bill, SB 2, signed by the governor earlier this month. . . .
[O]pponents contend Davis signed the bill after the recall election as a payback to labor. Davis officials did not return telephone calls for comment.
Calling it bounty-hunting legislation, critics say SB 796 could spark a wave of costly and abusive lawsuits.
The legislation would allow a worker to sue on behalf of other employees for wage and labor code violations. Moreover, it permits a judge to force employers to pay attorney's fees and penalties.
Overlawyered.com (from whom I stole this) notes that "A minor one-year Labor Code violation at [a] business employing 3,000 workers will generate civil penalties totaling more than $31 million". The Sacramento Bee reports it here.