ACLU and City of Vista Settle Day Laborer Dispute

San Diego and Vista – The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Holsenback APC, and the City of Vista today jointly announce their agreement to halt a lawsuit challenging the city’s ordinance (No. 2006-9) which requires employers of day laborers to register in advance, display a registration certificate, and provide a term sheet whenever they hire a day laborer.

The announcement of a settlement ends the litigation that was launched before the ordinance went into effect in July 2006.

The settlement preserves the effectiveness of the City’s ordinance and its associated administrative policy to protect day laborers without change. Under the terms of the settlement, unregistered first-time employers of day laborers will be allowed to apply for registration certificates in the field rather than being cited. Currently, an unregistered employer who attempts to hire a day laborer is often cited immediately by a City code enforcement officer. The settlement provides that first-time employers will now be able to register preliminarily with the code enforcement officer and proceed with hiring. The employer may then obtain a registration certificate from the City by mail or in person. The agreement thus protects the interests of the employers, the day laborers and the City.

“The ACLU is pleased to work with the City of Vista to resolve this case in a pragmatic way that addresses everyone’s interests. We hope this agreement will protect both employers and workers who fill an important role in the local economy.” said David Blair-Loy, Legal Director of the ACLU.

“The City of Vista is extremely pleased to put this litigation behind us,” said Darold Pieper, the City Attorney of Vista. “The City has embarked on many new and important civic projects as a result of the passage of Proposition L, and we are in the process of implementing our new status as a charter city. This settlement will permit us to focus our full energies on the building for the future instead of litigation,” Pieper said.

Dorothy Johnson, the directing attorney of the CRLA Oceanside office said: “When the City of Vista adopted this ordinance, it was with the stated purpose of protecting day laborers. For example, requiring registration and term sheets can help day laborers recover unpaid wages from employers who break the law. This settlement is consistent with that stated purpose by allowing employers to register on site and not face an immediate fine.”

The City of Vista also agreed not to automatically release the names, addresses, or telephone numbers of registered day laborer employers. The original ordinance provided that such information would be released upon request, but the settlement allows the plaintiffs time to seek a court order preventing the release of names following notice from the City. Recognizing that a balance must be struck between disclosure of public records and personal privacy rights, the City believes that state law likely requires disclosure of the registration certificates. However, the City is glad to have the issue decided by a court at plaintiffs’ request.

Both sides in the dispute acknowledged the professionalism with which the case was conducted and their satisfaction with the terms of the settlement. “The professionalism of all counsel on this case made this agreement possible,” said attorney J. Daniel Holsenback, ACLU cooperating counsel.

It was agreed that neither side would be considered the prevailing party in the litigation, so neither side will receive attorneys’ fees or costs from the other.