Why California Pastors Better Know California Labor Laws
Our labor law savvy friend commenting as “not a reporter” made some very important observations about how the Potters Field Ministries scandal could affect other ministries, especially in Calvary Chapel.
“It has been brought to my attention that some of the Mudman truck employees may have done catering at conferences or other events within California’s borders. It’s important to note that California has very draconian Joint employment/Joint Liability laws that essentially allow plaintiffs attorneys to go after deep pocket third party defendants for wage and hour or any other labor code violations.
Why should this matter? simple, hypothetically If my church contracted any of the PFM/Mudman trucks to do any catering at a conference that my church put together within California’s borders, my church and its directors could be held jointly liable for any wage and hour, osha, workplace injuries, discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, or other employment related claims. In other words for legal purposes in California any Mudman employees who worked at the conference are also the church’s employees.
Ultimately if I were any organization/ministry that may have had PFM/Mudman trucks work at my conference in the golden state, I would be reaching out to legal counsel knowledgeable in CA employment law to see how big the potential exposure for my organization may be as a result of the Mudman trucks and what can be done proactively to limit such exposure.
Again the is not to be considered legal advice. If your church or organization needs legal advice please consult a licensed employment attorney licensed to practice law in CA.”
In other words, because Raul Ries had the Mudman truck at the CCA conference, he is potentially liable for potential labor law violations, as is every other church in California that had them parked on the property.
Then there is the Private Attorney General Act…that gives plaintiffs and attorneys incredible power of discovery.
Discovery means that all of the financial and other records of the church could be demanded and entered into court records.
“Filing a PAGA action in a California court under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004(PAGA) would be the way to bring accountability not only to PFM and the Rozell’s, but also anyone who enables them. (meaning anyone on the board of directors)
This PAGA law gives a private right of action file a law enforcement action against the offending employer. This type of action essentially allows the state of CA to deputize an aggrieved current or former employee to act as a deputy “attorney general of the state of CA” to enforce all labor codes. When the bill was passed back in 2004, it was thought to be a good idea to protect workers but sadly this law has been perverted by greedy CA plaintiff attorneys since it gives them the power to conduct unlimited discovery of a company and issue civil penalties against the offending employer. Unfortunately this law is being used by greedy CA attorneys for a monetary gain and not for justice and for the best interest of the public.
Also noteworthy is that there is no other state in the nation with such a draconian law so if I were a director of PFM I’d be making things right with all these young servants of the Lord who worked at the mudman trucks.
Also a peculiar in California is that being a corporation or limited liability company provides zero protection from personal liability with regard to wage theft or other labor code violations. If you are a managing shareholder or a director of the employer, and (in this case PFM or related entity) you can be held personally liable for these wage and hour and other labor code violations including sexual harassment. Finally those agreements that PFM/mudman employees signed which stated that hours worked over 40 hours in a week would be considered voluntary hours would be deemed “unconscionable” and thus null and void in CA.
Folks I’m not a progressive by any means theologically, but when it comes to employee protections California is the Roman empire of workers rights.
Some interesting links regarding PAGA below.
This has application outside the PFM debacle.
For decades, it has been common practice in Calvary Chapels to screw assistant pastors and worship leaders in terms of hours worked and wages paid.
It’s only going to take one filing to open the floodgates…