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AB 1509 Means New Protections for California Whistleblowers in 2016

ab-1509-california-whistleblower-protections-2016.jpg

Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a slew of employment law-related bills that offer more protections to California employees. And on January 1, 2016, a number of them took effect, including AB 1509, which extends whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections for employees whose family members engage in whistleblower activities.

The new whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections of AB 1509 extend to some key sections of California Labor Code, which will protect more California workers from unlawful employer behaviors. But how does the new law protect employees from retaliation, exactly?

This article will answer your questions about AB 1509 so you can better understand your rights as an employee in California.

ab-1509-california-whistleblower-protections-2016.jpg

Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a slew of employment law-related bills that offer more protections to California employees. And on January 1, 2016, a number of them took effect, including AB 1509, which extends whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections for employees whose family members engage in whistleblower activities.

The new whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections of AB 1509 extend to some key sections of California Labor Code, which will protect more California workers from unlawful employer behaviors. But how does the new law protect employees from retaliation, exactly?

This article will answer your questions about AB 1509 so you can better understand your rights as an employee in California.

How Does AB 1509 Protect California Employees from Retaliation?

AB 1509 expands California whistleblower protections in section 98.6 of the Labor Code. Currently, labor and employment laws prohibit employers from discriminating, retaliating, or taking adverse action against California employees or job applicants for filing claims with the Labor Commissioner, or from engaging in other protected behaviors relating to the enforcement of legal rights under California Labor Code.

The new law, which took effect on January 1, 2016, makes it illegal for a California employer or those acting on behalf of the employer, to retaliate against a worker if he or she is a family member of someone who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in protected conduct under applicable provisions of California Labor Code.

In addition to these changes, AB 1509 extends financial responsibility for retaliation by a staffing firm or other labor contractor to the "client employer." The law adopts the "client employer" definition that exists in Labor Code section 2810.3 meaning, "A business entity, regardless of its form, that obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor."

AB 1509 will also add provisions to Labor Code section 1102.5 (the California Whistleblower Act) and to Labor Code section 6310 (workplace safety complaints).

Does AB 1509 Protect Employees from Wrongful Termination?

While AB 1509 offers new whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections, it does not extend wrongful termination protections to family member-coworkers under Labor Code section 96(k) - which makes it unlawful for a California employer to demote, suspend or discharge an employee based on lawful behaviors that occur during nonworking hours away from employer premises. But, if family member-coworkers exercise their employee rights under section 98.6 while off-duty, they are protected under California law.

If you believe you have become a victim of wrongful termination in California, contact an employment lawyer immediately. Federal and California state laws offer protections for both private and government employees against wrongful termination if the employee has been discharged as a result of certain discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.

How Do I Know if My Employer is Retaliating Against Me?

At times, it can be easy to spot employer retaliation - such as immediate termination shortly after you file a harassment complaint at work. But, oftentimes, it may not be as clear, especially if you're being retaliated against due to a family member's behavior that may now be protected under AB 1509. If you have engaged in a protected activity under California labor code sections 98.6, 2810.3, 6310, or the California Whistleblower Act and your employer shows the following signs of retaliation, you may wish to contact an employment attorney who can help you get the retaliation complaint process started.

  • Your employer subjects you to unfair disciplinary action.
  • Your employer gives you a negative performance review
  • Your employer denies you of ongoing training.
  • Your employer denies you of a promotion or raise.
  • Your employer increases your workload.
  • Your employer fires you.

More Information About AB 1509:

  • Bill Text - AB 1509: Employer liability via California Legislative Information
  • 5 New California Employment Laws Taking Effect on January 1, 2016 via California Employment Law Report
  • With the new year comes new laws via Union Democrat

Information for Whistleblowers in California:

  • California Whistleblower Protections via California Division of Labor Standard Enforcement (DLSE)
  • California Retaliation & Discrimination Complaints: Summary of Procedures via State of California Department of Industrial Relations
  • The Whistleblower Protection Act

If you feel you are suffering from unlawful retaliation in the workplace, know that California employment laws can help protect your employee rights. Contact our California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation today.

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