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New Law Makes Establishing Retaliation Claims Easier For California Employees

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 497, the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Act, into law on October 8, 2023. Effective January 1, 2024, this law amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5, and 1197.5 to make it easier for employees to establish retaliation claims. Click here for article.

  • Rebuttable Presumption of Retaliation: SB 497 creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in protected activity.

  • Prima Facie Case of Retaliation: To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, the employee must demonstrate: (1) engagement in protected activity, (2) adverse action by the employer, and (3) a causal nexus between the protected activity and adverse action.

  • Shift in Burden of Proof: If the adverse action occurs within 90 days of protected activity, SB 497 makes it easier for employees to satisfy their initial burden. The burden then shifts to the employer to provide a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the action.

  • Civil Penalty: Employers found liable for retaliation may face a civil penalty of $10,000 per employee per violation, in addition to other remedies.

  • Impact on Employers: Employers should review their policies and procedures regarding workplace complaints and disciplinary actions to ensure compliance with SB 497. The law increases the risk of liability for retaliation claims and underscores the importance of careful handling of employee concerns.

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