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Total Articles: 9

Governor Brown Signs Bill to Significantly Alter California Retaliation Law to Benefit Employees

Senate Bill 306, among other things, allows an employee or the Labor Commissioner to obtain a preliminary injunction (ordering the employee to be reinstated pending their retaliation claim) upon a mere showing of “reasonable cause” that a violation of the law occurred. SB 306 goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Finally! Something That's Not "Protected Activity" in California

Executive Summary: It turns out that “protected activity” sufficient to make out a retaliation claim in California is not as broad as it may sometimes seem. On November 9, 2016, the Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for the employer in Dinslage v. City and County of San Francisco (A142365). The Court held that an employee can only state a prima facie case for retaliation under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act when the protected activity is directed at an unlawful employment practice.

Timing is Everything: Pair of California Retaliation Cases Lead to Opposite Results for Employers

Two cases involving employees who were terminated shortly following protected leaves of absence lead to opposite results for the employers, with one case being dismissed and the other proceeding to trial. In one case, the California Court of Appeal rejected a bank employee’s claim that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for taking a domestic violence leave of absence. Rosales v. Moneytree, Inc. In the other, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that triable issues of fact existed regarding an outside sales representative’s claim that her employer terminated her in retaliation for her complaining about the amount of documentation requested to support her medical leave of absence. Furtado v. United Rentals Inc.

The California Court of Appeal Broadens Anti-Retaliation Rules for Employers

In Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, D.D.S., Inc., the 5th District of the California Court of Appeal held that Labor Code § 1102.5 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who discloses information to a law enforcement agency where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal law. The Court clarified that section 1102.5 protects employees even where the report to law enforcement concerns a violation of law committed by a fellow employee or contractor, and not by the employer.

New California Law Expands Retaliation Coverage

On July 16, 2015, Governor Brown signed into law AB 987, amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to reflect what many already believed to be the law: employers and other covered entities cannot retaliate against employees or other persons who request a religious accommodation or an accommodation for a disability. Effective on January 1, 2016, AB 987 establishes that requesting such an accommodation is a protected activity under the FEHA, regardless of whether the accommodation is granted.

California Legislature Overturns Retaliation Holding in Rope v. Auto-Chlor and Classifies a Mere Request for Accommodation as a “Protected Activity”

On July 16, 2015, AB 987 was signed into law by the Governor Jerry Brown which provides a paradigm shift in favor of employees with respect to their retaliation claims. The new law overturns the retaliation holding in Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 635, and makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against a person for “requesting” an accommodation based on religion or disability.

New California Paid Sick Leave Law May Cause Headaches for Employers

Executive Summary: On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA), which provides nearly all employees working in California with paid sick leave. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2015.

California’s New Anti-Retaliation Protections for Foreign Workers Effective January 2014

In October 2013, California enacted several new laws that provide California workers, who are seeking to change their personal information, engage in whistleblower activity, or exercise their workplace rights, with expanded protections against adverse employment actions, including specific protections for foreign national employees. The new legislation became effective on January 1, 2014. Some of the relevant provisions are summarized below.

Individuals Cannot be Held Liable for Retaliation Claims.

In Reno v. Baird, the California Supreme Court held in 1998 that individuals are not personally liable for discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Similarly, today the Court ruled in Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership that while employers may be held liable, individuals may not be held financially responsible for retaliation claims in the discrimination context.
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