New Bill Shifts the Burden of Proof to California Employers in Retaliation Cases

At Romero Law, our trusted employment law attorneys in California work tirelessly to protect our clients from workplace retaliation. It is never fair for someone to report wrongdoing in the workplace only to be punished by their employer for their bravery.

Senate Bill 497 (SB 497) establishes a presumption of retaliation if an employee or applicant engages in specified protected activity — including making complaints about unpaid wages, making complaints about equal pay violations, or other employment rights — and subsequently faces disciplinary action or termination within 90 days of doing so.

CA Employers in Retaliation Cases

What Does a Rebuttable Presumption of Retaliation Mean for California Workers?

Existing law prohibits a person from discharging an employee or discriminating, retaliating, or taking any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant engaged in protected conduct, as specified.

Under existing law, an employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, retaliated against, subjected to adverse action, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of their employment because, among other things, the employee engaged in protected conduct, as specified, the employee shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by those acts of the employer.

SB 497 creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of the employee’s claim if an employer engages in any action prohibited by this provision within 90 days of the protected activity specified in this provision.

The burden of proof then shifts to the employer to prove that the adverse action was not retaliatory. Faced with the rebuttable presumption, an employer must articulate a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for the alleged retaliation.

This new burden-of-proof structure will likely make it more difficult for employers to obtain dismissal of retaliation claims at the summary judgment stage. Further, SB 497 establishes that in addition to other remedies, an employer is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000 per employee for each violation of amended Labor Code Sections 98.6 and 1102.5, to be awarded to the employee or employees who suffered the violation.

Contact Our Employment Law Attorney at Romero Law

If your employer retaliates against you for reporting workplace violations in California, contact our experienced Los Angeles County employment law attorneys to discuss your unique workplace circumstances today.

Our employment law firm and bilingual staff offer services in both English and Spanish and are available now to discuss your case during a free consultation by calling (626)-396-9900 or contacting us online.

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