California Whistleblowers Gain Easier Route to Reinstatement

This week, California passed a law that delivers a major expansion of employee rights within the state. Once Senate Bill 306 goes into effect at the start of 2018, a court will be able to order immediate reinstatement of a whistleblower plaintiff if the plaintiff merely shows “reasonable cause” exists to believe the termination was unlawful. Previously, reinstatement could be ordered only after the Labor Commissioner’s Office completed an investigation or after a trial on the merits. Further, when a whistleblower plaintiff now asks for immediate reinstatement, the court must consider how the employee’s discharge without reinstatement could have a “chilling effect on other employees asserting their rights under those laws.” Essentially, the law encourages disgruntled former employees to drum up support among former coworkers. Also, even without the employee making a complaint, the Labor Commissioner will be allowed to investigate possible retaliation based on the investigator’s own suspicions. California employers should continue to be careful when discharging unhappy employees, and should quickly seek counsel if a retaliation charge or lawsuit is filed. Contact Joel O’Malley about this issue at 612.305.7747 or jomalley@nilanjohnson.com.

Associated Professionals