California trial lawyers are licking their chops over a trio of new state employment laws that significantly expand the liability of Golden State businesses.

Assembly Bill 5, passed last month, severely restricts the use of contractors. Senate Bill 142, passed this month, adds rules regarding workplace lactation rooms. And, AB 673, also passed this month, allows employees to sue for punitive damages over late wages.

Businesses already face broad exposure to labor lawsuits in California because of its unique Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). This law deputizes employees to enforce the state’s 1,100-page labor code. It passed in 2003 to help the state bureaucracy police its one million or so businesses with employees. However, it has morphed into a favorite tool of employment attorneys looking to exploit frivolous or good faith labor violations into a quick payday.

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