Warnings from California, the Harms of Attacking Entrepreneurship

Assembly Bill (AB) 5 was recently signed into law in California and has had devastating effects on independent contractors and freelancers in the Golden State. AB5 replaces the common law test with the ABC test to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Since the law went into effect on January 1, 2020, hiring entities are now required to classify workers as employees unless they meet all conditions of an ABC test. Below are real stories of Californians whose lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down by the new classification:

Shelby Givan, Teacher and Mother

Shelby Givan is a dedicated teacher and mother who was determined to make time in her life for both profession and parenthood. But after AB5 passed, Shelby’s family was faced with several decisions, including her potentially having to return to full-time work and leave her son in someone else’s care. Read more.

Valerie Fausone, Animal Welfare Specialist

Valerie is an animal welfare specialist, who consults with animal shelters, helping them implement no-kill policies and connecting them directly with members of their communities to increase live releases. After the passage of AB5, Valerie was notified by the shelters that they were no longer able to pay her or utilize her services as a contractor. Read more.

Lilly Walters, Face Painting Artist

Lilly Walters owned a thriving face-painting business in California--so thriving, in fact, that she often subcontracted with other artists to meet the demand of her clients. But after the passage of AB5, Lilly went from routinely entertaining at corporate family events where she would subcontract with six other artists—to struggling to book jobs. Read more.

Brian Butler, Owner of Big Bear Cabin Check

Brian Butler and his wife established Big Bear Cabin Check, a service that provided property checks and maintenance for rental properties. As the demand for their services grew, they began hiring independent contractors to help maintain the properties. After AB5 passed, they were told that they had to hire their contractors as full-time employees, which they couldn't do. Read more.

Liam Murphy, Freelance Architectural Designer

Freelancing as an architectural designer gave Liam the flexibility to prepare for his licensing exams, earn money, and manage a family design project- and was beneficial for his employer to have an experienced, trusted contractor without the training investment and overhead costs. Unfortunately, Liam’s contract was placed on indefinite hiatus because of AB5. Read more.

Margarita Reyes, Actor and Film Producer

Margarita, along with hundreds of other actors and producers, works as an independent contractor for indie filmmakers. Freelancing afforded Margarita an income and the flexibility to pursue her passion on her own terms. But the indie film industry has been decimated by AB5 and Margartia hasn't signed a contract since the law was passed. Read more.

Monica Fontes, Over-the-phone Interpreter

Monica Fontes is an over-the-phone interpreter AND a cancer survivor. Her contract role gave her the flexibility to take breaks as needed to manage the pain accompanied with chemotherapy. But when AB5 passed, she lost the one thing that kept her mind off the pain and the unknowns of cancer. Read more.

Cecily Whiteside, Writing and Marketing Expert

Cecily Whiteside was making plans to expand her successful writing business, until AB5 prevented her from hiring independent contractors to assist with writing and editing. The bill’s vague wording has also cast doubt in the mind of her clients based outside of California; some chose not to renew their contracts. Read more.

Laurie Blunk, Nurse Educator

Independent contracting was the perfect fit for Laurie―it allowed her to pursue her passion as a nurse educator while also living with a hereditary disorder that made it physically difficult for her to work full time. But AB5 took away Laurie’s ability to contract, and with it, her ability to earn a living while managing her health. Read more.

Aimee Benavides, Freelance Translator

As a freelance translator, Aimee is able to work when she sees fit while caring for her two children. She works hard and balances it all because it benefits her family, offering flexibility that full-time employment would not give her. AB5 has threatened that flexibility and her livelihood. Read more.

Nikole Wilson-Ripsom, Special Needs Parent and Freelancer

Nikole is the parent of a special needs child. Freelancing gave her the flexibility to be present for the more than 20 hours per week of behavioral and occupational therapy that her son requires and pay for his nutritional supplements. AB5 eliminated her ability to serve as an independent contractor and forced her to make tough decisions about her son's treatment. Read more.

Special thanks to the California Policy Center for helping to locate many of the freelancers and independent contractors on this page.
You can visit their website here: https://californiapolicycenter.org/