Proposition 65 was passed into California law almost 20 years ago and attorneys are still finding companies to sue and large settlements to collect. The CCA office continues to receive phone calls from cleaners seeking help with Proposition 65 issues. Unless you prefer to give away $20,000 or more in a settlement, you MUST follow the provisions of this important law!

What is Proposition 65?
Proposition 65 is the short title for the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

Proposition 65 requires the Governor to publish a list of chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list must be updated at least once a year. Over 700 chemicals are on this list (including perc and other chemicals used by cleaners).

Businesses that use any chemical on the list and have more than 9 employees are required to provide certain public notifications so to allow California consumers to make informed choices about the products/services they purchase, and to enable residents or workers to take whatever action they deem appropriate to protect themselves from exposures to the listed chemicals.

How is Proposition 65 enforced?
Enforcement is carried out through civil lawsuits. These lawsuits may be brought by the Attorney General, any district attorney, or certain city attorneys (those in cities with a population exceeding 750,000). Lawsuits may also be brought by private parties acting in the public interest, but only after providing notice of the alleged violation to the Attorney General, the appropriate district attorney and city attorney, and the business accused of the violation.

The notice must provide adequate information to allow the recipient to assess the nature of the alleged violation. A notice must comply with the information and procedural requirements specified in regulations. A private party may not pursue an enforcement action directly under Proposition 65 if one of the government officials noted above initiates an action within sixty days of the notice.

A business found to be in violation of Proposition 65 is subject to civil penalties of up to $2,500 per day for each violation. In addition, the business may be ordered by a court of law to stop committing the violation.

Can't we just due to have Proposition 65 thrown out?
After the passage of Proposition 65 many industries and large companies filed lawsuits to have the law scaled back or declared unconstitutional. In 17 years, none of these lawsuits has been successful.

How do I comply with Proposition 65?
In order to protect yourself and your business you MUST perform both of the warning duties listed below. Failure to post a notice ont he premises and failure to post a public notice via mail or your local newspaper exposes you to potential lawsuits. Nearly every violation filed against a cleaner is based on failure to warn/notify.

1. Post your Proposition 65 warning notice in each operating plant, dry agency or cleaning store by the front door. It does not matter what kind of store you have!

2. Publish a Proposition 65 warning notice every 90 days in your local newspaper. Posting it in the Legal Notice Section of the paper is permissible. Text to use for your published notice is below.

"The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) requires the Governor to develop a list of chemicals determined by the state to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. This law also requires businesses to warn individuals of exposure to listed chemicals. The following cleaner operates their facility in accordance with local, state and federal environmental, health and safety laws. This facility contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer." (Print the Name of Your Facility and the address at the end of this notice.)

CCA recommends keeping a file where you can save your notices after they have been published. We also recommend keeping copies of invoices and bills provided by your local newspaper when you publish your warning notice. You will need them if you are ever mailed a violation notice.

Another good suggestion (though not mandated by law) is to buy your poly bags with the Proposition 65 warning printed on the side. Check with your supply house and make sure you are purchasing the correct plastic bags.

What happens if I don't comply?
Most of the Proposition 65 lawsuits are filed by private attorneys. these are attorneys in California whose entire business is built on filing Proposition 65 lawsuits.

Businesses that are in violation will receive a 60 day notice of violation letter. This letter contains the basis of the alleged violation, a certificate of merit (required by law) and an invitation to respond or to meet to discuss settlement. Depending on your response, the matter could end, enter into settlement negotiations or proceed to court.

What mistakes do businesses make when sent a notice of violation?
The biggest mistake businesses make is ignoring the violation notification letter. A 60 day notice of violation is not a joke nor is it "junk mail." If you have a question as to whether the notice you receive is genuine then contact the CCA office. We will be happy to help you.

The second biggest mistake is failing to consult with your attorney before replying to a notice of violation. The Proposition 65 laws are very detailed and complex. Upon receiving a notice of violation we recommend that cleaners contact an attorney immediately. Have a licensed attorney review the notice of violation, gather information from you and prepare any response letters or communications. While it may cost to have this done, it may save you tens of thousands of dollars in settlements costs.

California Cleaners Association • 2520 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 150 • Sacramento, CA 95833
PHONE (916) 239-4070 • FAX (916) 924-7323 • EMAIL US
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