New Workplace Retaliation Law

Filing a workplace retaliation claim just got a little easier in California. California state lawmakers have made changes to the law that favor employees rather than employers regarding acts of retaliation.

A new California workplace retaliation law went into effect on January 1, 2018. S.B. 306 gives more authority and enforcement to the State Labor Commissioner’s Office. Now, the State Labor Commissioner’s Office has the right to investigate retaliation prior to receiving a retaliation complaint from an employee. The law increases protections for employees who file wage-related retaliation and whistleblower claims.

Retaliation happens when an employer demonstrates adverse actions against an employee when the employee exercises his or her labor rights. When an employee feels that he or she has been the victim of retaliation because of filing a claim that shows inappropriate behavior by the employer, the employee can take legal action against the employer. Employer retaliation is considered a form of discrimination, and it happen in many ways, such as:

  • Termination of employment
  • Demotions and pay cuts
  • Reduction of hours
  • Relocating the employee to an undesirable position
  • Poor performance evaluations
  • Written or verbal abuse
  • Harassment in the workplace
  • Creating a hostile environment

The new law ushers in additional measures that the employee can take against an employer.  Companies need to become familiar with the new law. An employment law attorney can explain S.B.306 and how it can impact your company and employees.

The new law makes it easier for an employee to obtain injunctive relief. Injunctive relief is a court-ordered act or prohibition against an act or condition that has been requested and sometimes granted, in a petition to the court for an injunction.

With the new law, an injunctive relief would make employers reinstate a discharged worker even before the company could defend itself against the allegations of the employee.

Now, it can be much harder for an employer to defend the company against an accusation that the company retaliated against a worker for making wage claims.

In the past, the burden of proof rested on the shoulders of the employee in obtaining an injunction. The employee had to prove that he or she would succeed in the claim and would be placed in harm’s way if the injunctive order was not granted. The burden of proof required to obtain an injunction is much lower with the new law in place.

According to S.B 306 “the bill would require a court, if an employee has been discharged or faced adverse action for raising a claim of retaliation for asserting rights under any law under the jurisdiction of the commissioner, to order appropriate injunctive relief on a showing that reasonable cause exists to believe a violation has occurred.”

Employees need to make sure all managers and supervisors understand the new law and its effects in the workplace. Management should document all disciplinary actions. An employment law attorney can educate you and your team members on the effects and enforcement of this law in the workplace.