Monica Fontes, Over-the-phone Interpreter
Warnings from California, the Harms of Attacking Entrepreneurs
Monica is a 61-year-old cancer survivor. She was contracted as an interpreter for eight years until Assembly Bill 5 *(see definition below) took away her ability to work. Monica’s role as an over-the-phone interpreter gave her the flexibility her lifestyle demanded. She was able to take breaks as needed to manage the pain that accompanied chemotherapy, a benefit that most full-time or in-person opportunities couldn’t offer her. She earned good pay, but for her, the benefit of contracting was the joy it brought her each day. During the lowest points while battling cancer, her work gave her something to look forward to, something to take her mind off the pain and made her feel useful.
She called her work “her salvation against depression.” But since January, the depression has often won.
After AB5 passed, Monica lost her contract position. More than that, she lost the one thing that kept her mind off the pain and the unknowns of cancer. She knows that her chances of getting full-time employment that allow her to manage her pain and lifestyle are slim. The impact of AB5 has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns. She wishes that while being shut in her home, she could have also been working. Working as an independent contractor gave Monica financial freedom and hope. Now, she has lost both.
*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.