Retaliating Against an Undocumented Worker Who Complains about Unlawful Activity isn’t Tolerated in California
On October 5, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 666 (Steinberg) into law. SB 666 does the following:
It overturns MacDonald v. State of California (discussed here), in which the Court of Appeal held that an employee must exhaust the administrative remedy set forth in Labor Code section 98.7 before pursuing a civil claim for retaliatory discharge or wrongful termination in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5 and retaliatory and discriminatory discharge in violation of Labor Code section 6310.
Significantly, the new law also makes it clear that an employer who retaliates or takes adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because he or she has engaged in protected conduct may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
The law also subjects attorneys to discipline for reporting or threatening to report the suspected immigration status of a witness or party to a civil or administrative action or his or her family member, to a federal, state, or local agency because the witness or party exercises or has exercised a right related to his or her employment. It also subjects certain licensed professionals and businesses to license suspension or revocation if the Labor Commissioner or a court determines that they have violated certain provisions of California law.
Further information on SB 666, including the text of the bill, is available here.