In summary

As a business owner, I know firsthand how tough it is to keep up with easy-to-exploit “pro-consumer” laws.

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By Edward Medina, Special to CalMatters

Edward Medina is the owner of Ramona’s Mexican Food, a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles County. He lives in Hacienda Heights.

California small businesses are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, but we shouldn’t be. Every day, more Americans are vaccinated and more businesses are opening up, yet small business owners continue to suffer unnecessary hardship. 

Across the country, the states that are getting back to normal the quickest are those that prioritized protecting businesses from lawsuits that could put them under, while they were already vulnerable from reduced business during the worst of the pandemic. The leaders of those states know that small businesses are the backbone of the economy and responsible for providing services to local communities while supporting families through good paying jobs.

In California, however, we are forced to fight two battles – fending off unfair COVID-19-related lawsuits on one hand, while trying to keep up with expensive and changing public health guidelines on the other. For small business owners this means less money to pay bills and bring employees back to work. And it could very well be the straw that breaks the back’s for many businesses that have worked hard to stay open.

If this wasn’t bad enough, California already had one of the worst legal climates in the country. As a business owner, I know firsthand how tough it is to keep up with the legal loopholes and easy-to-exploit “pro-consumer” laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act standards that take advantage of well-meaning and inclusive businesses to deliver paydays to lawyers who are able to trip us up. We are in the business of matching customers with the goods and services they want, but we can’t do that to the best of our ability with these legal hurdles.

To make matters worse, California’s legal climate actually hurts the consumers it intends to help. When we cannot invest in our own businesses or afford to defend ourselves, prices go up for patrons, and workforces shrink. That makes for a lose-lose situation. How is this putting consumers and hardworking Californians first?

And to cap it off, California’s misguided legal climate hurts minority communities the most. Those of us whose businesses survived the pandemic are being counted on by our local communities to hire employees like other states are doing, but we cannot. There is a lot of talk about California being inclusive and pro-consumer, but we are left with more unemployed minorities and struggling businesses than many other states. It makes no sense.

Our leaders need to listen to reason and help protect hard-working Californians against damaging lawsuits. There is no justification for putting more hurdles in our path to economic recovery, especially given how tough things have been over the past year. The time is now to work hand in hand with the private sector to get more people back to work and start fixing the legal loopholes that have held us back for so long.

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