Labor and Employment Law

Ca. Labor & Emp't Rev. May 2014, Volume 28, No. 3

Message From the Chair

By Carol Koenig

Carol Koenig is a non-equity partner at Wylie, McBride, Platten & Renner. Her primary area of practice is labor law, representing both private and public sector unions and their members throughout the state in all aspects of labor law and relations. Ms. Koenig is the author of the Fair Labor Standards Act chapter in the Section’s treatise, California Public Sector Employment Law. She spends much of her limited spare time raising funds for non-profit organizations by participating in endurance events such as triathlons, bike rides, and running events.

I attended a kick-off recently for Tour de Cure (a 100 kilometer bike ride to raise money for diabetes research). One of the cyclists who had signed up for the ride was thinking of opting out because she was concerned about not being able to meet the minimum $250 fund-raising challenge, especially as she had raised more than $1,000 last year. Those comments did not surprise me, as we all wonder whether we will be able to reach our fund-raising goals—especially this early in the season. What did surprise me was what she said next: "It’s that Obamacare thing. My employer now has to fire me and I will need to spend my time looking for a new job instead of fundraising and training."

Now, I am no expert on the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), but I was pretty certain that there is nothing in the Act’s 2,000-plus pages that says an employer has to fire employees. So I asked her why she thought that. She explained that her employer had called everyone together that day and said he was sorry, but the new law required him to pay for expensive health insurance coverage for all employees, even if they already have health care coverage and, since he is a small employer, he cannot afford that. So, he decided the fairest solution was to lay-off the newest employees who already had health coverage. That would include her.

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