Update Applicable to:
All California employers and multi-state businesses with at least 1 worker in California.
On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) No. 497 also referred as the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, which amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5, and 1197.5 to create a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employee is disciplined or discharged within ninety days of certain protected activity. The effective date for the rebuttable presumption of retaliation is January 1, 2024.
What are the details?
California Labor Code Section 2922 states the at will doctrine, meaning that the employment relationship can be terminated by either party at any time, with or without cause and with or without advanced notice.
With the new law in SB 497, the at will doctrine is limited again due to another protected activity, expanding even more the amount of vast exceptions established under protected employee categories and activities.
The presumption (created in SB 497) makes it easier for an employee to establish a case of retaliation by creating a rebuttable presumption in favor of the employee’s claim. It applies if an employer takes an adverse employment action (such as discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or retaliated) against an employee within 90 days of that employee engaging in protected conduct and the burden is on the employer to demonstrate that there was a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for the alleged retaliation.
- Employers should review the resources provided and consult with their trusted attorney on whether they can implement a policy or practice that allows the employer to demonstrate that there was a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for the alleged retaliation.
Employers should review additional resources here:
Erratum: the author in Law Firm Article 1, typed “AB 497 and the At-Will Doctrine in California”, when it should have been “SB 497 and the At-Will Doctrine In California”. The correct bill (now law) is SB 497, which is being referenced throughout the entire article; AB 497 is about “Special education: braille instructional aide: notice of teacher credentialing programs.”
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