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-> (CHANGE DATE) August XX, 2020
Senate Committee on Labor
1020 N Street, Room 545
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB2257 (Gonzalez)– worker classification: Request for Amendment
Dear Chair Hill and Honorable Members of the Senate Labor Committee:
I am writing to express my opposition, unless amended, for Assembly Bill (AB) 2257. I am asking you to amend AB2257 to include Sign Language Interpreters and Realtime Captioners in the “professional services” exemption to AB5.
-> (PICK ONE) I am a skilled professional Realtime Captioner or Sign Language interpreter. (OR) I am an individual who uses the services of Realtime Captioning and Sign Language Interpreting service providers. (OR) I support the ADA mandated right for the deaf and hard of hearing to have unfettered access to equal communication.
Professional Realtime Captioners and Sign Language Interpreters are a small group of highly trained specialists who work directly with the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) community, providing legally mandated communication accommodations in daily life. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing are entitled to the same access to public services that is provided to the general population. There is already a shortage of qualified personnel in these niche professions.
In her public comments while presenting AB2257 (formerly AB1850), the author, Assemblymember Gonzalez, cited EDD statistics which identified over 4,000 employee misclassification cases over the last five years related to spoken language interpreters. Realtime Captioners and Sign Language Interpreters are NOT in this category. D/HH providers are completely separate and distinct from spoken language interpreters. We ask you to recognize this distinction in considering our request.
Historically, ADA providers to the D/HH community have primarily been independent contractors. That is the historical norm for these professions, in large part due to the random and unpredictable demand for services by clients. The “Borello” standard has worked well for these providers for many years and the “ABC” test does not suit itself to D/HH providers given the unique needs of this population. I am asking you to amend AB2257 to include Realtime Captioners and Sign Language Interpreters in a provision that would return D/HH providers back to the “Borello” test.
Further, these professions are dominated by women, both as individuals and business owners. They have long afforded women upward mobility and flexibility to balance career and family, as well as a path to small business ownership. There is also a significant percentage of D/HH providers who are people of color (POC) and/or from the LGBTQ community. AB5 threatens to further marginalize opportunities for women, POC, and LGBTQ individuals.
I am asking you to amend AB2257 to include Sign Language Interpreters and Realtime Captioners as professional services. I will be in opposition to AB2257 unless you accept my request to amend the bill as outlined.
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cc: Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez
Governor Gavin Newsom