NEW YORK (Reuters) – California’s overtime law is an example of what law professors are calling a “voodoo law”.
The law allows employers to ask workers to work overtime to fill jobs, but employers cannot ask for unpaid time off.
It has sparked protests and litigation in recent months.
In this Sept. 22, 2014 file photo, the Golden State skyline is seen in Los Angeles, California.
The law was amended last month to allow employers to take unpaid leave for work related to sick leave.
The California Labor Commission on Wednesday upheld a lawsuit filed by labor activists against the law, saying it has the “potential to be a precedent that encourages employers to push their workers to the brink of involuntary overtime” under a different provision of the state law.
In a memo, the commission said the new overtime provision would create an unfair “competitive disadvantage” for employers who do not want their employees to be forced to work extra hours, but will instead be allowed to be flexible.
“It may create an incentive for employers to work more hours to meet overtime obligations, resulting in greater pressure on workers to voluntarily work overtime,” the commission wrote.
The lawsuit was brought by the California Nurses Association, which said the overtime provision was designed to “push workers to overtime levels that are more than employers are prepared to meet”.
“There are a number of other provisions that are designed to incentivize employers to engage in involuntary overtime practices, such as increasing pay rates and providing overtime discounts for employees,” the union said in a statement.
The labor commission said in its ruling that employers cannot be allowed “to ask their workers for unpaid leave that would otherwise be subject to unpaid time-off” under the new law.
“In other words, the overtime law prohibits employers from asking employees to work any unpaid time in excess of the employer’s reasonable request for unpaid unpaid time,” the labor commission wrote in its memo.
The new overtime law will go into effect in the coming weeks.
The Labor Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the past, labor groups have criticized the law as discriminatory against women and racial minorities.
A woman wearing a headscarf is pictured in front of a portrait of late rapper Tupac Shakur in this March 3, 2016 file photo in Los Santos, California, California.(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)In the California case, the labor court upheld a lower court ruling that found the new rules were a violation of workers’ right to “reasonable” time off, but did not give an opinion on whether employers should be allowed an exemption.
The commission has previously found that employers should have an exemption for employees who work overtime and other non-emergency work hours, and the labor commissioner has said that employers must have a reasonable time for their employees when they are sick.