AB 2300 will protect CalWORKs and CalFresh participants from unjust sanctions
SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, AB 2300, authored by Assemblymember Kalra, was signed into law by Governor Newsom. AB 2300 will prevent Californian workers from having to choose between the wellbeing of their families and their right to not be abused or harassed at work.
“By equipping CalFresh and CalWORKs participants with the means to identify workplace mistreatment and obtain good cause exemptions, we can empower them to leave jobs that violate their labor rights,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I am grateful for the support of our sponsors and Governor Newsom as we work to ensure that program participants can keep the crucial benefits they and their families need as they heal and look for safer, more equitable jobs.”
CalFresh and CalWORKs provide crucial financial aid, food assistance, and supportive services to low-income families. For many individuals, the benefits provided by these programs are the key difference between struggle and survival. However, many participants are required to complete work minimums to receive their benefits and risk losing them if they quit their job or reduce their work hours, even if it is in response to abusive or adverse work environments.
AB 2300 ensures that CalWorks and CalFresh families are protected by the same labor and employment rights as all Californian workers, and requires counties to provide information to program participants about these rights. CalWorks and Calfresh families will be protected from losing their benefits if they choose to leave a workplace due to sexual harassment, discrimination, or other violations.
“At Legal Aid at Work, we often hear from individuals who feel trapped in jobs that violate their rights–distressed about what will happen to their families if they lose both their income and their benefits. AB 2300 will ensure that CalWORKS & CalFresh participants do not have to endure abusive and unlawful working conditions for fear of losing their benefits,” said Stacy Villalobos, Director of the Racial Economic Justice Program at Legal Aid at Work.
“This historic piece of legislation provides workers the power to leave abusive workplaces by preserving a safety net at a time when they are most in need. Workers should not be treated differently when they are economically insecure,” said Karín Umfrey, Senior Staff Attorney at Worksafe. “California has taken a major step to redress structural inequities faced by welfare-to-work recipients. The ability to hold employers accountable for illegal behavior will lead to safer and more secure workplaces for all.”
“Our Women's Foundation CA Solís Policy Institute fellows advocated to bring dignity into the workplace and strengthen the safety net for workers as they championed AB 2300 and we could not be prouder," said Marisol Franco, Chief Strategist of Programs with Women's Foundation California. “AB 2300 becoming law will advance gender justice and provide vital protections for the Californians who are most likely to experience volatile and unsafe workplaces–women, trans and gender expansive people, people of color, and immigrants.”
AB 2300 is sponsored by Legal Aid at Work, The CalWORKs Association's Project SPARC, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Women's Foundation of California, and Worksafe.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra was first elected to the California Legislature in 2016, representing the 27th District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. In 2020, he was re-elected to his third term. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and currently serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.