Most frequently asked questions and answers

The Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California, was formed by a group of professional, working interpreters and translators in the state of California concerned with defending the independence of language professionals, including voice over talent, language transcribers, translation and interpretation educators and trainers.

We are composed of court, administrative hearing, and medical certified interpreters; conference and community interpreters; translation and interpretation educators and trainers; and certified translators. We are all practicing professionals. We hail from as far north as Shasta and south as San Diego.

CoPTIC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization governed by a chair and steering committee that reflects the geographic diversity of our state.

We are a 501 (c)4) non-profit, so we are able to spend an unlimited amount on advocacy and lobbying.

Contributions to CoPTIC are NOT tax-deductible because we are not a charity.  Because we rely on a broad base of individual donors, we are not bought by or beholden to any interest.  Our only interest is the shared professional interest of our broad grassroots base of stakeholders up and down the state from throughout the ranks of every part of our professions.

We have a plan informed by past victories and proven best practices, that relies on constituency-driven advocacy. Through a sustained, systematic effort that requires the active involvement of hundreds us professionals, we encourage all of you to engage with lawmakers in your district, making policy change possible in Sacramento.

Every dollar donated to CoPTIC supports our advocacy program. Our budget line items are not complicated, from paying for our lead strategist and advocate, communications, local and regional organizing, materials, database access, and other costs. We are running a highly economical program and count on the grassroots strength of you, our supporters throughout the state. Our Steering Committee Members are all volunteers.

If you haven’t already, make appointments to meet with your legislators and tell your story. Keep pushing for an exemption. It is not clear exactly when the state of California might begin enforcement or conduct audits to gain evidence about compliance, much less render judgments or assess penalties.

There are differing interpretations of key sections of the law involving exemptions, potential safe harbors, and effective dates for enforcement.

As a language professional you can advocate for redress of our interests and long-term stability through an explicit exemption of our occupations. That is the only sure fix. It will require being engaged with your lawmakers in 2019 so that together, we can hit the ground running on Jan. 1 with our 2020 legislative advocacy already in motion to be able to deliver results.

Even before the signing of AB 5, Uber, Lyft and Doordash threatened to gather signatures immediately to launch a referendum, possibly on the Nov. 3, 2020. statewide ballot, aimed at repealing the forthcoming law. They’ve now done so.

There are several other professions in California who have serious grievances about the law. State lawmakers may weigh the risk of failing to address some of those grievances in 2020 against the potential of a well-financed lawsuit, efforts to gather signatures. and of a campaign to eliminate the law entirely via ballot measure. These concerns may yield an incentive for some lawmakers in 2020 to seriously address as many of those grievances as possible, within the legislative session.

A lawsuit aimed at striking down this law is at best a longshot. The arguments and strategy used may assert interests that do not line up or may even be contrary to some of our personal or professional values. CoPTIC is not against AB 5. The problem of misclassification of workers DOES exist in California. One problem with AB 5, however, is that it applies a cookie-cutter definition of employee on the workforce. Putting time or money into a lawsuit builds no capacity, no grassroots muscle, and no long-term understanding of the value and independence of our work or accountability by policy-makers in California.

Yes. We have a strong footing in law to insist on an exemption for our professions.

As Judge James G. Queenan held in the Miller case in the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB) ruling this summer, July 2019, interpreters are logically understood to be independent contractors and not employees.

You are! We are an active base of professionals throughout the state poised to use our voices for legislation that responds to our needs. There are no shortcuts. No one else can do this for us!

Section (e)  of AB 5 defines the Business to Business (B2B) exemption, which states AB 5 does “not apply to a bona fide business-to-business contracting relationship, as defined below, under the following conditions:

(1) If a business entity formed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or corporation (“business service provider”) contracts to provide services to another such business (“contracting business”), the determination of employee or independent contractor status of the business services provider shall be governed by Borello.

This means that if you are a Sole Proprietor now, you can technically provide your services to another business entity without having to convert to an LLC, LLP or Corporation.

While the Business to Business (B2B) section (e)(1)(B) of AB 5, which states “The business service provider is providing services directly to the contracting business rather than to customers of the contracting business” may appear to allow for translation companies to be exempt, there are no guarantees that language companies won’t be audited for misclassifying their independent contractors.

It doesn’t look like it, if you consider that interpreters provide their services directly to the clients of companies providing interpreting services.

An audit is a costly, lengthy process. The best way to avoid this unnecessary process is by supporting an exemption.

Yes, including on worker classification, official registration and filing in California, as well paying taxes here. Out-of-state companies are not shielded from application of AB 5. In fact, many California colleagues have been receiving emails from out-of-state companies informing them that they will no longer be able to hire any independent contractors in California, no matter how talented the language professional, unique their expertise, or long-standing their business relationship.

You have a legal remedy: file a complaint with the California Labor Standards Commission or the Employment Development Department (EDD) and make your case heard.

Do you like being an independent contractor?

Do you prefer not to be hired as an employee because that’s contrary to the facts of your work and contrary to how you are compensated? 

Do you want to continue making your own schedule, care for your children or parents when they need you, work with the customers you like, accept assignments in your area of expertise, and have greater freedom of choice about how you spend your time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, want to preserve your independence and continue to enjoy your work/life balance, please join us!


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