Expanded Employee Protections Effective Jan. 1 2014
California – employee protection from retaliation
In October 2013, California passed numerous bills into law that provide California workers who seek to exercise their workplace rights with strengthened protections against employer retaliation. Two bills in particular, AB 263 and SB 666, took effect on January 1, 2014 and provide new employee protections for immigrant workers and whistleblowers. California enhances employee protection from retaliation.
AB 263 amends Labor Code section 98.6, which protects employees who assert their rights under the Labor Code; for example, complaining about unfair wages or working conditions. Specifically, AB 263 prohibits retaliation or adverse action against employees for exercising their rights under the Labor Code (note: current law only explicitly prohibits discharge and discrimination).
AB 263 also expands protected conduct under Labor Code section 98.6 to specifically include a written or oral complaint by an employee that he/she is owed unpaid wages. Critically, AB 263 adds a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per employee per violation of Labor Code section 98.6.
Retaliation and Unfair Immigration Practices
In addition to AB 263 prohibits an employer from engaging in “unfair immigration-related practices” when an employee asserts protected rights under the Labor Code. For instance, an employer may not threaten to contact immigration authorities because an employee complained that he/she was paid less than the minimum wage. AB 263 authorizes various penalties against employers who engage in unfair immigration-related practices, including a private right of action.
Additionally, AB 263 prohibits employers from discriminating, retaliating or taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee updates, or attempts to update, his or her personal information. There is an exception if the changes are directly related to the skill set, qualifications or knowledge required for the job.
Broadened Protections for Whistleblowers
AB 263 and SB 666 expand employee whistleblower protections by prohibiting retaliation by any person acting on behalf of the employer. In addition, the new laws broaden whistleblower protections to prohibit retaliation based on a worker's testimony or provision of information to a public body regarding the employer's violation of a local, state, or federal statute or regulation, to any person with authority over the employee, or to another employee who has the authority to investigate the claim. These revisions apply to California Labor Code § 1102.5 (AB 263, SB 666).
Employee Protections and Workplace Retaliation
Are you an employer with questions about these new laws? Are you an employee trying to understand the latest protections offered you through the revised Labor Code? If you answered yes to either of these questions, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers from Kingsley & Kingsley. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us.