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Employee Discipline: California

Employee Discipline requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Jennifer K. Achtert, Fisher Phillips

Summary

Investigating Employee Behavior

Sometimes, management directly raises employee discipline issues. Other times, co-workers, customers or clients report employee misconduct to management. When the employer, or any supervisor, is put on notice of employee misconduct, the employer must respond.

  • Employers need to be aware that knowledge of harassment by a supervisor is imputed to the employer. The employer will be held liable if it fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. +Cal Gov Code § 12940(j); +Cal Gov Code § 12926(s); +2 CCR 11023. Therefore, employers need to ensure that supervisors are aware of - and reminded of - their obligation to report any potential harassment to HR or another appropriate person. See Training and Development: California; California Sexual Harassment Training for Supervisors; EEO - Harassment: California.
  • Although it may be appropriate to suspend or reassign one or more employees pending investigation, be very careful to avoid claims of retaliation by the complaining party. See The Process of Discipline: Discipline of Employees Who Have Engaged in Protected Activities.
    • Retaliation for opposing any practices forbidden by the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or for filing a complaint or otherwise assisting in a proceeding under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, is prohibited. +Cal Gov Code § 12940(h); EEO - Retaliation: California.
    • Other statutes also prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers.
  • Employers must remain aware of privacy concerns when conducting investigations, both when interviewing witnesses and when gathering documents and records. Depending on the matter being investigated, it may be necessary to review time records, emails or telephone records. Be sure to comply with internal policy and legal requirements in obtaining and reviewing those records. Employee privacy protections regarding social media passwords do not apply in the case of an employer's disciplinary investigation. See Employee Privacy: California.
  • Private California employers may not demand or require any applicant or employee to take a polygraph or lie detector test as a condition of employment or continued employment. +Cal Lab Code § 432.2. Further, California employers may not request any person to take such a test without advising the person in writing of the provisions of this law. +Cal Lab Code § 432.2(b).
  • It is illegal to record confidential conversations without the knowledge of all parties to the conversation. +Cal Pen Code § 632. Therefore, employers who record any investigative interviews need to ensure that all parties are aware that the conversation is being recorded.

The Process of Discipline

Communicating Expectations for Workplace Conduct

Employers' standards can be established by various sources and set out in various locations:

  • Handbooks, policies, and work rules. Although California employment is presumed to be "at will", be sure to include "at will" language in the employee handbook to avoid creating an implied contract of employment. +Cal Lab Code § 2922;
  • Internal or professional codes of ethics;
  • Local, state or federal law. This includes laws against harassment and discrimination, as well as a range of other laws. See, e.g., Cal Gov Code §§ 12940 - 12951 ; and
  • Professional standards.

Treatment of Employees Who Have Engaged in Protected Activities and Lawful Behaviors Outside of Work

Employers should proceed with caution when seeking to discipline employees who have engaged in activities protected by laws and regulations. The factors discussed below do not preclude discipline, but discipline in these situations must be approached carefully. An employer should stop and evaluate before imposing any discipline in the situations that involve protected activities, leaves of absence, pending criminal proceedings and off-duty conduct.

Protected Activities and Whistleblowing

If the employee to be disciplined has recently engaged in protected activity, e.g., complained about harassment, contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or filed a discrimination charge, then an employee should approach discipline mindfully.

Numerous California statutes protect workers from retaliation and provide protection to whistleblowers. These statutes have varying requirements for employers. Local requirements may also apply. See Local Requirements.

Victims of certain criminal offenses. California law protects employees who are victims of certain criminal offenses. +Cal Lab Code § 230.5. Specifically, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the law (i.e., terminating, discriminating or retaliating against an employee for attending a legal proceeding). An employer should note that the term victim is defined as including an employee as well as that employee's spouse, parent, child, sibling or guardian. Employees must provide advance notice of the absence, if possible.

EEO retaliation protections. Persons who oppose practices forbidden by the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or who have filed a complaint, testified or assisted in a proceeding under the FEHA, are protected from retaliation. +Cal Gov Code § 12940; EEO - Retaliation: California.

The FEHA defines a request for a reasonable accommodation on the basis of religion or disability as a protected activity. Therefore, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an individual who makes a request for a reasonable accommodation.

The legislature acted in response to certain court cases holding that a mere request of reasonable accommodation was not a protected activity.

Labor complaint retaliation protections. California law protects applicants and employees who file complaints or participate in proceedings under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner, including complaints filed with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). +Cal Lab Code § 98.6.

Equal pay protections. California's employee protections under its equal pay law include:

  • Prohibiting an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility (the wage differential need not be within the same establishment);
  • Requiring an employer to affirmatively demonstrate that a wage differential is based upon one or more specified factors, including a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a bona fide factor other than sex;
  • Prohibiting an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against any employee based on his or her exercise of rights under California's equal pay law;
  • Prohibiting an employer from restricting an employee from disclosing his or her own wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee's wages or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise his or her rights with respect to equal pay; and
  • Strengthening employee remedies: in a civil case, an employee may recover reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, including interest, as well as other equitable relief.

California law provides additional protections against discrimination based on sex and other protected activities, such as religion. EEO - Discrimination: Colorado.

Worker's Compensation retaliation protections. California law protects employees from discrimination based on filing a claim for worker's compensation benefits, or testifying in another employee's proceeding for worker's compensation benefits. +Cal Lab Code § 132a.

Protections based on immigration or citizenship status. California has enhanced discrimination and retaliation protections for employees based on immigration or citizenship status, including penalties for an employer's failure to comply with the laws. The protections include prohibiting an employer from:

  • Threatening to file or filing a false police report or complaint with any state or federal agency;
  • Using the E-Verify system in a manner not required by federal law, regulations or an existing memorandum of understanding to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or applicant;
  • Authorizing a court to order the suspension of certain business licenses held by the employer for prescribed periods based on the number of violations; and
  • Prohibiting an employer from discriminating or disciplining an employee based on his or her updating or attempting to update personal information, i.e., a lawful change of name, social security number or federal employment authorization document.

The law provides for a private right of action with various remedies, including damages and penalties. An employer may be assessed a $10,000 penalty for each violation of the law that must be paid to the affected employee or applicant. See +Cal Lab Code § 98.6; +Cal Lab Code § 1019; +Cal Lab Code § 1024.6; Immigration, Form I-9 and Work Visas: California.

Whistleblowing. California law protects employees who disclose information to a government or law enforcement agency where the employee has reason to believe the disclosure involves a violation of a state or federal law or regulation, as well as protection for employees who refuse to participate in activities that would result in a violation of a state or federal law or regulation. +Cal Lab Code § 1102.5. Retaliation protections include an employee who is a family member of a person who:

  • Engaged in, or was perceived to have engaged in, legally protected activity; or
  • Made a complaint under state whistleblowing or anti-retaliation laws.

Safety and health whistleblowing. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for making complaints regarding workplace safety and health. Cal Lab Code §§ 6310 - 6312 ; see HR and Workplace Safety: California. In addition, employees enjoy protection for making complaints about hazardous substances. +Cal Lab Code § 6399.7. California law also prohibits a health facility from discriminating or retaliating against a patient, employee, member of the medical staff, or any other health care worker for the health facility because that person has:

  • Presented a grievance, complaint, or report to the facility; or
  • Initiated, participated or cooperated in an investigation or administratve proceeding related to the quality of care, service or condition at the facility.

+Cal Health & Saf Code § 1278.5.

Discriminatory treatment may include actual or threatened discharge, demotion, suspension or any unfavorable changes in, or breach of, the terms or conditions of a contract, employment or privileges of the employee, member of the medical staff or any other health care worker of the health care facility. Failure to comply with these provisions could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $75,000. See +2017 Bill Text CA A.B. 1102.

Savings associations whistleblowers. Employees of savings associations are protected from discrimination for providing information to the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, the Attorney General or a district attorney. +Cal Fin Code § 6530.

Public employee whistleblowers. California law protects public employees from retaliation for reporting waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or a threat to public health. Cal Gov Code §§ 8547 - 8547.13 .

False claims whistleblowers. Employees who disclose information to government or law enforcement agencies, or who act in furtherance of a false claim action, e.g., by investigating, initiating, testifying or assisting such an action, are protected from retaliation. +Cal Gov Code § 12653.

Leaves of Absence, Disability Accommodations and Flexible Working Arrangements

If the employee has advised the employer of the need for a leave of absence, or of the need for an accommodation for a physical or mental disability, then any discipline directly related to an employee's rights with respect to protected leaves or accommodations may be prohibited by California law. See, e.g., +Cal Gov Code § 12940; +Cal Gov Code § 12945.2. See Disabilities (ADA): California; FMLA: California. Local requirements may also apply. See Local Requirements.

An employer may not retaliate against an employee for exercising rights under city or state paid sick leave laws. An employer retaliates against an employee when it takes adverse action (e.g., termination or demotion) against an employee because of an employee's exercise of protected rights.

Leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. An employee may be entitled to protected leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. +Cal Lab Code § 230; +Cal Lab Code § 230.1. The law entitles an employee who is retaliated against by an employer for exercising his or her rights under the domestic violence leave law to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits.

Family School Partnership leave. An employee may be entitled to protected leave to attend school or day care activities under the California Family School Partnership Act. +Cal Lab Code § 230.8; Other Leaves: California. The Act allows an employee to take leave for the following child-related activities:

  • To find, enroll or re-enroll his or her child in a school (K-12) or with a licensed child care provider or to participate in activities of the child's school or licensed child care provider; or
  • To address a child care provider or school emergency.

California paid sick leave. California has passed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA), which provides that employees may earn paid sick leave. See Other Leaves: California. Covered employees in California accrue paid sick leave.

The law includes retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities (such as taking or requesting paid sick leave).

New Parent Leave Act. Under California's New Parent Leave Act, certain employers must allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement. See +2017 Bill Text CA S.B. 63, adding Cal Lab Code § 12945.6. The Act contains retaliation protections.

Specifically, the law prohibits an employer from:

  • Refusing to hire, terminating, fining, suspending, expelling or discriminating against an individual for exercising rights provided under the ordinance, including:
    • Taking parental leave; and
    • Giving information or testimony as to his or her own parental leave, or another's parental leave, in a related inquiry or proceeding. Cal Lab Code § 12945.6 (g); and
  • Interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this bill. Cal Lab Code § 12945.6 (h).

Kin care leave. If an employer decides to offer additional sick leave to employees than that required under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (HWHFA), then the employer must permit employees to use sick leave to care for their kin. An employer who provides sick leave for employees is prohibited from retaliating against an employee based on his or her use of accrued and available sick leave for the same qualifying reasons as under the HWHFA. An employee may use his or her leave to cover, for example, qualifying domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking incidents.

In addition, an employer is prohibited from denying an employee his or her right to use sick leave to care for his or her kin, which includes the same family members covered under the HWHFA. This is a broad group of people that includes grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

Garnishment or Pending Criminal Proceedings

An employer should evaluate any proposed discipline if the discipline is due to an employee's garnishment or pending criminal proceeding.

An employee cannot be discharged because of a threat of garnishment or because his or her wages have been garnished for payment of one judgment. +Cal Lab Code § 2929.

State discrimination laws prohibit covered employers from using criminal history in promotion, training, discipline, termination and other employment decisions if:

  • Doing so would have an adverse impact on individuals that the employer cannot demonstrate is job-related and consistent with business necessity; or
  • The employee demonstrates a less discriminatory alternative means of achieving the specific business necessity as effectively.

Covered employers are prohibited from seeking or considering the following information (irrespective of adverse impact on the individual):

  • An arrest or detention that did not result in conviction;
  • Referral to or participation in a pretrial or post-trial diversion program;
  • A conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed, expunged or statutorily eradicated;
  • An arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication or court discipline that occurred under juvenile court law; and
  • A nonfelony conviction for possession of marijuana that is two or more years old.

+2 CCR Section 11017.1.

Although employers may ask an applicant or employee about any arrest for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial, employers may not use the fact of the arrest alone as the basis of disciplinary proceedings. +Cal Lab Code § 432.7.

There may be additional employee protections at the municipal level. Under the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, a San Francisco employer may not take an adverse action against an employee with a criminal history without first performing an individualized assessment and providing the employee prior notice of the adverse action.

Off-Duty Conduct

California employers are generally not permitted to discipline employees for lawful off-duty conduct. However, discipline may be appropriate if it is imposed for business-related reasons, and is imposed on a nondiscriminatory basis. See, e.g., +Cal Const, Art. I § 1; +Cal Lab Code § 96(k).

California law provides protection for employees who engage in political activities or become candidates for office. +Cal Lab Code § 1101; +Cal Lab Code § 1102. Local requirements may also apply. See Local Requirements.

The law is somewhat unsettled in this area, but employers should think carefully before imposing discipline for lawful off-duty conduct.

Retaliation Enforcement

The California Labor Code authorizes the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to commence a workplace investigation into unlawful retaliation, and also allows the Labor Commissioner or an employee to obtain a preliminary injunction upon a showing of "reasonable cause." +2017 Bill Text CA S.B. 306.

Specifically, DLSE is authorized to commence an investigation of an employer, with or without a complaint being filed, when specified retaliation or discrimination is suspected during the course of a wage claim or other specified investigation being conducted by the Labor Commissioner, including:

Upon a finding of reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in or is engaging in a violation, the Labor Commissioner may petition a superior court for temporary or preliminary injunctive relief. Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (2)(A). An employee who brings a civil action may seek injunctive relief from the court. Cal Lab Code § 1102.61. The law urges courts to consider not just the harm that may result directly to an individual from a violation, but also the chilling effect on other employees asserting their rights under those laws. Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (2)(C); Cal Lab Code § 1102.62.

A court must order appropriate injunctive relief on a showing that reasonable cause exists if an employee has been discharged or faced adverse action for raising a claim of retaliation for asserting protected rights. Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (2)(D); Cal Lab Code § 1102.62 (c).

However, any temporary injunctive relief that is granted does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or terminating an employee for conduct that is unrelated to the claim of the retaliation. Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (2)(E); Cal Lab Code § 1102.62 (d).

In addition to other available legal relief for the commissioner and/or an employee, the law authorizes the commissioner to issue citations directing specific relief to persons determined to be responsible for violations. The law also establishes review procedures, including procedures for requesting a hearing before a hearing officer for the commissioner and for a petition for a writ of mandate. Cal Lab Code § 98.74.

An employer who willfully refuses to comply with a final order in an administrative or legal proceeding could be subject to prescribed civil penalties payable to the affected employee. Cal Lab Code § 98.74; Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (c)(3). A hearing officer or court may order an employer to:

  • Hire, promote, or otherwise restore an employee or former employee who has been determined eligible;
  • Post a notice to employees; or
  • Otherwise cease and desist from a violation.

Willful violations of a final order will be subject to a penalty of $100 per day for each day the employer continues to be in noncompliance with the court order, up to a maximum of $20,000.

Any injunctive relief granted would not be stayed pending appeal. Cal Lab Code § 98.7 (2)(F).

Discipline Considerations

Be aware of the potential for tort claims brought by a disciplined or fired employee. Be sure to apply policies even-handedly. Do not fire one employee for stealing a pencil if another employee stole a computer and received only a verbal warning.

Defamation Avoidance

Defamation claims are sometimes raised by disciplined or terminated employees. To establish this claim, the individual must show:

  • A false statement (written or oral) made to someone other than the individual;
  • Without reasonable care to determine the truth or falsity of the statement;
  • Which tended to injure the individual in his or her occupation; and
  • Did in fact injure him or her.

However, there is a privilege for communications "without malice,"; between "interested parties"; i.e. people who have a legitimate reason to know. Therefore, employers should:

  • Ensure that discipline is based on facts;
  • Ensure that discipline is applied even-handedly; and
  • Limit the discussion of disciplinary actions to the employee, HR, and appropriate supervisors - and not share this information more broadly. +Cal Civ Code § 47(c).

False Imprisonment

From time to time, disciplined or terminated employees raise claims of false imprisonment. To establish this claim, an individual must show that he or she was deprived of freedom of movement for some period of time - however short - by:

  • Physical barriers;
  • Force;
  • Threat of force;
  • Fraud;
  • Deceit; or
  • Unreasonable duress; and
  • Was harmed.

Employers should be aware of the potential for this claim, and avoid any attempts to force an employee to participate in an investigation or remain in a disciplinary meeting against his or her will.

Specific Discipline Situations

Attendance

Attendance issues pose a frequent problem for employers. Be sure to apply attendance policies even-handedly. However, do not discipline employees for absences due to protected leave. See, e.g., +Cal Gov Code § 12940; +Cal Gov Code § 12945.2.

Workplace Theft

Issues of workplace theft, broadly defined, are also a common issue for employers. Theft can include removal of employer property, misappropriation of intellectual property, unauthorized use of work time for personal activities (or other unauthorized activities), and time card theft, i.e., having someone else punch in or out for the employee when the employee is not at work.

  • California law does not permit "self help" by employers seeking to recover their property or funds lost by the employee. Employers may not deduct losses due to broken tools or equipment, bounced checks or shoplifters from an employee's paycheck. See +Cal Lab Code § 224.
  • The California wage orders purport to allow an employer to take deductions from an employee's wages for any "cash shortage, breakage or loss of equipment"; if the employer can show that the shortage, breakage, or loss is caused by a "dishonest or willful act,"; or by the employee's gross negligence. 8 CCR §§ 11010 - 11170 . However, this provision may not comply with other California statutes and case law, and should be applied only with great caution. Normally, discipline - up to and including termination, where appropriate - is the appropriate response to employee shortages or suspected theft. Additional "self help" may violate the law, and puts the employer at risk for substantial penalties if the deduction is later determined to be inappropriate.

Practical Example

Acme Company has a policy of writing up cash-handling employees whose registers are more than a few dollars short or over the anticipated amount. Maggie, an Acme employee, has had five write-ups for the month of December. When confronted by her supervisor, Maggie admitted to taking money from the register to pay for holiday expenses. Acme can fire Maggie. However, even though Acme can show a series of shortages, as well as document an admitted theft, Acme would be prudent not to resort to any "self help" by deducting wages from her final paycheck.

Disciplining Employees With Drug and Alcohol Addictions

Employers sometimes need to discipline or fire employees for their use of drugs or alcohol. This frequently results from an alcohol test or a drug test based on "reasonable suspicion" or a random drug test (when permissible). See Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct: California.

  • Employers with more than 25 employees are required to "reasonably accommodate" any employee who wishes to voluntarily enter and participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program, so long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer. +Cal Lab Code § 1025.
  • This does not prohibit employers from refusing to hire or from firing an employee who, because of current use of alcohol or drugs, is unable to perform his or her duties, or cannot perform the duties in a manner which would not endanger his or her health or safety, or the health or safety of others.
  • Employees who use marijuana in California, even with a medical marijuana card, may be fired for failing a drug test. The medical marijuana law exempts certain individuals from criminal laws, but does not require employers to allow illegal drug use. +Cal Health & Saf Code § 11362.5.
  • Although alcoholism is treated as a disability, "psychoactive substance use disorders"; resulting from current illegal drug use are not disabilities. +Cal Gov Code § 12926(j); +Cal Gov Code § 12926(k). Nor is compulsive gambling considered a disability under California law. +Cal Gov Code § 12926(j); +Cal Gov Code § 12926(k).

E-Cigarette Use and Smoking

The California smoke-free workplace law also bans e-cigarettes from enclosed workplaces.

California prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces of places of employment, including an owner-operated business as a place of employment. An owner-operated business means a business having no employees, independent contractors, or volunteers, in which the owner-operator of the business is the only worker. The following spaces are included in the smoke-free workplace law:

  • Hotel lobbies;
  • Bars and taverns;
  • Banquet rooms;
  • Warehouse facilities; and
  • Employee break rooms.

Enclosed space includes:

  • Covered parking lots;
  • Lobbies;
  • Lounges;
  • Waiting areas;
  • Elevators;
  • Stairwells; and
  • Restrooms.

The definition of tobacco products includes electronic devices such as electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine or other vaporized liquids. +Cal Bus & Prof Code § 22950.5.

An employer needs to take reasonable steps to prevent smoking in the workplace, such as posting signage. However, taking reasonable steps does not require an employee to:

  • Physically eject a nonemployee from the place of employment; or
  • Make a request to a nonemployee to refrain from smoking, if doing so could involve a risk of physical harm to the employer or any employee.

Violations of the smoke-free workplace law are classified as infractions punishable by a fine. +Cal Lab Code § 6404.5.

State law has harmonized any existing municipal smoking restrictions by suspending their enforcement while the statewide smoking ban is in effect.

A number of cities and counties in California have existing bans on e-cigarette use in public places, including:

A California employer should adopt policies limiting workplace e-cigarette use and smoking to minimize liability risks and discipline employees accordingly.

Local Requirements

Alameda Minimum Wage Ordinance

Alameda has passed a minimum wage ordinance, which contains retaliation protections for employees. Alameda, California Code of Ordinances Section 4-60.55, as enacted by Ordinance 2018-6073. The ordinance is enforced as of July 1, 2019.

Employer means:

  • Any person receiving or holding a business license under the Alameda Municipal Code; or
  • Any person, including corporate officers or executives, who directly or indirectly (including through the services of a temporary employee agency) employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions of any covered employee.

See Minimum Wage: California.

A covered employer may not discriminate in any manner or take any adverse action (including action relating to any term, condition or privilege of employment) against any employee for the following protected activities:

  • Making a complaint to the city;
  • Informing any person about any party's possible violation; and
  • Informing any person about potential rights under the ordinance, or otherwise educate or assist any person in asserting protected rights.

Protections apply to any person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the ordinance.

Taking adverse action against a person within 90 days of the person's exercise of rights raises a rebuttable presumption (i.e., an assumption unless contested) of having done so in retaliation.

Belmont Minimum Wage Ordinance

Belmont has passed a minimum wage ordinance, which contains retaliation protections for employees. Belmont, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 32-4, as enacted by Ordinance 2017-1123. A covered employer is one with an employee who performs at least two hours of work in a calendar week within the geographic boundaries of the city. See Minimum Wage: California.

An employer may not discharge, reduce the compensation of or otherwise retaliate against any employee for the following protected activities:

  • Making a complaint to the city;
  • Participating in any related proceedings;
  • Using any civil remedies to enforce his or her rights; or
  • Otherwise asserting his or her rights under the ordinance.

An employer that discharges an employee who engaged in any protected activity within 120 days of the employer being notified of the activity may be found in violation of the ordinance, unless the employer provides clear and convincing evidence (i.e. proof that results in reasonable certainty of the truth) of just cause for the termination.

An employer may be subject to a civil penalty of $50 for each employee or person whose rights were violated for each day a violation occurred.

Berkeley Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Berkeley has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities.

Rights protected under the ordinance include the right to:

  • Be paid the specified minimum wage;
  • Receive a distribution of hospitality service charges as specified;
  • File a complaint or inform any person about any party's alleged noncompliance with the ordinance; and
  • Inform any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance or otherwise educate any person about the ordinance or to assist him or her in asserting such rights.

The ordinance protects a person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the law.

If an employer takes an unfavorable action against an individual within 90 days of the individual exercising his or her rights under the ordinance, it will be presumed that the action was retaliatory. However, the employer has the opportunity to refute the claim.

Berkeley, California Code of Ordinances, Section 13.99.070.

Berkeley Paid Sick Leave

The City of Berkeley has passed a ordinance requiring paid sick leave. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not discriminate or take any adverse action (including an action relating to any term, condition or privilege of employment) against an individual in retaliation for exercising a right under the ordinance.

The ordinance protects the right to:

  • Accrue and use leave in accordance with the ordinance's provisions;
  • File a complaint;
  • Inform any person about any party's alleged noncompliance with the law;
  • Inform any person of their potential rights under the ordinance;
  • Educate any person about the ordinance; and
  • Assist an individual in asserting their rights under the ordinance.

The ordinance protects a person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the law.

If an employer takes an unfavorable action against an individual within 90 days of the individual exercising his or her rights under the ordinance, it will be presumed that the action was retaliatory. However, the employer has the opportunity to refute the claim.

Berkeley, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 13.100.070.

An employer may not interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any rights provided under the ordinance, including the use of earned sick leave as a negative factor in any employment action (e.g., evaluation, promotion, disciplinary action or termination) or otherwise disciplining an employee for the use of earned sick leave. Berkeley, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 13.100.040.

Cupertino Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Cupertino has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not terminate an employee, reduce his or her compensation or the number of hours worked, or reassign an employee's duties in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City; and
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance.

If an employer terminates, reduces the compensation of or reassigns an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

Cupertino, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 3.37.070.

El Cerrito Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of El Cerrito has passed a minimum wage ordinance. See Minimum Wage: California. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not terminate an employee, reduce his or her compensation or the number of hours worked, or reassign an employee's duties in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City;
  • Participating in any related proceedings;
  • Using any civil remedies to enforce his or her rights; or
  • Otherwise asserting his or her rights.

If an employer terminates, reduces the compensation of or reassigns an employee within 120 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show, by clear and convincing evidence, a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

El Cerrito, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 6.90.070, as added by Ordinance 2015-09.

Emeryville Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, and Other Employment Standards Ordinance

Emeryville has passed a Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, and Other Employment Standards Ordinance. Emeryville, California Code of Ordinances Chapter 37, Title 5. The paid sick provisions include retaliation protections. Specifically, an employer may not terminate, reduce the compensation of or otherwise discriminate against an employee for the following activities:

  • Filing a complaint with the City; or
  • Participating in any proceedings under the ordinance.

If a complaint is filed by a worker under the ordinance, the City may investigate any reported violation by:

  • Inspecting the workplace;
  • Conducting interviews; and
  • Issuing subpoenas for relevant records.

An employer must permit access to its workplace so that the City may enforce the ordinance, monitor compliance and investigate complaints. An employee may also file a lawsuit for violations of the ordinance.

Los Altos Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Los Altos has passed a minimum wage ordinance that contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. +Los Altos, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 3.50.070. An employer may not discriminate against or take adverse action against an employee in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City or informing any person about noncompliance with the ordinance; and
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance, and assisting any person in asserting those rights.

If an employer takes an adverse action against an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show, by clear and convincing evidence, a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance

The City of Los Angeles has passed its Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance. See Preemployment Screening and Testing: California. The ordinance contains retaliation protections.

Specifically, covered employers are prohibited from taking adverse action (e.g., terminating or reducing compensation) against employees for exercising rights under the ordinance.

Los Angeles Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage

The City of Los Angeles amended the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance to require covered employers to provide paid sick time benefits. The ordinance applies to all businesses (including corporate officers and executives) with 26 or more employees that have employees working in the city. The ordinance contains retaliation protections.

Specifically, an employer may not discharge, reduce in compensation or otherwise discriminate against any employee who:

  • Opposes any practice that is unlawful under the ordinance;
  • Participates in proceedings;
  • Seeks to enforce rights under the ordinance; or
  • Asserts rights under the ordinance.

In addition, Los Angeles has passed a minimum wage ordinance that applies to hotel workers. The ordinance also provides for a certain amount of uncompensated time off for employees. The ordinance prohibits covered hotel employers from implementing any workplace policy that would count any activity that is protected by the ordinance as an absence that is subject to discipline, discharge, suspension or other adverse employment action. The ordinance also contains retaliation protections for employees.

Malibu Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Malibu has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. Specifically, an employer may not discriminate or take adverse action (e.g., terminating or reducing compensation) against any person for exercising rights protected under the ordinance, including:

  • Opposing any practice that is unlawful under the ordinance;
  • Participating in related proceedings; and
  • Asserting rights under the ordinance.

Malibu, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.36.050.

Milpitas Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Milpitas has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections. +Milpitas, California Code of Ordinances Sec. III-31-8.00; see Minimum Wage: California.

Specifically, an employer covered under the ordinance may not discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. Protected rights include:

  • The right to file a complaint;
  • The right to inform any person about any party's alleged noncompliance with the ordinance;
  • The right to inform any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance; and
  • The right to assist any person in asserting his or her rights under the ordinance.

Retaliation protections apply even if a person mistakenly alleges noncompliance with the ordinance, but does so in good faith.

Taking an adverse action against a person within 90 days of the person's exercise of rights under the ordinance raises a rebuttable presumption of retaliation - an employer is presumed to have retaliated against any employee unless it can prove otherwise.

Oakland Paid Sick Leave

City of Oakland employers are required to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The measure prohibits an employer from discharging, reducing compensation or otherwise discriminating against any person who:

  • Makes a complaint to the City;
  • Participates in any City proceedings; or
  • Files a lawsuit for violation of this measure.

The retaliation protections provide that an employer will not discharge an employee within 120 days of being notified of the protected activities described above, unless the employer has "clear and convincing evidence of just cause for such discharge." Sec. 5.92.050(A).

In addition, an employer may not require that an employee find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee will be on paid sick leave.

Oakland Hospitality Worker Retention Ordinance

Oakland law requires that any successor employer that takes over a large-scale hospitality business or a portion thereof:

  • Offer employment to all employees of the preceding employer; and
  • Not discharge them without just cause during the first 120 days of employment.

See [Article: 3341].

The ordinance has retaliation protections. Specifically, no person may terminate or otherwise discriminate against anyone for:

  • Making a complaint;
  • Participating in any City proceeding;
  • Using any civil remedy to enforce his or her rights; or
  • Otherwise asserting rights under the ordinance.

+Oakland, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 2.36.030.

Palo Alto Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Palo Alto has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not take an adverse action or discriminate in any manner against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City; and
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance.

If an employer terminates, reduces the compensation of or reassigns an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

Palo Alto, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 4.62.070.

Pasadena Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Pasadena has passed a minimum wage ordinance. See Minimum Wage: California. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities.

Specifically, an employer may not discharge, reduce in compensation or otherwise discriminate against any employee for:

  • Opposing any practice under the law;
  • Participating in proceedings related to law;
  • Seeking to enforce his or her rights under this law by any lawful means; or
  • Otherwise asserting rights under the law.

Taking adverse action against a person within ninety (90) days of the person's exercise of rights protected under this chapter, in a civil or administrative proceeding, shall raise a rebuttable presumption of having done so in retaliation for the exercise of such rights.

+Pasadena, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.02.030.

Redwood City Minimum Wage Ordinance

Redwood City has passed a minimum wage ordinance, which contains retaliation protections for employees. Redwood City, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 46-070, as enacted by Ordinance 2018-2443.

A covered employer is one that:

  • Maintains a facility in Redwood City or is subject to the City's business license tax;
  • Employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions of any person who performs at least two hours of work in a given calendar week within Redwood City; and
  • Is not exempt from the state minimum wage requirements.

See Minimum Wage: California.

An employer may not discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. The following activities are protected:

  • Filing a complaint with the city;
  • Informing any person about anyone's alleged noncompliance with the ordinance;
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance; and
  • Assisting any person in asserting rights under the ordinance.

Protections apply even if a person mistakenly alleges noncompliance with the ordinance, as long as the allegation was made in good faith.

An employer that discharges an employee who engaged in any protected activity within 120 days of the employer being notified of the activity may be found in violation of the ordinance, unless the employer provides clear and convincing evidence (i.e. proof that results in reasonable certainty of the truth) of a lawful cause for the termination.

An employer may be subject to a civil penalty of $50 for each employee or person whose rights were violated for each day a violation occurred. In addition, an employee may file a court claim for:

  • Reinstatement;
  • Payment of back wages unlawfully withheld;
  • Payment of an additional sum as a civil penalty; and
  • Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

San Diego Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance

San Diego voters approved and the City Council has passed Proposition I, the City of San Diego Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance. See Other Leaves: California. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee for exercising his or her rights in good faith, such as:

  • Requesting and using earned sick leave;
  • Filing a complaint of an alleged violation of the ordinance with an enforcement agency or in court;
  • Communicating with any person about any violation or alleged violation;
  • Participating in any administrative or judicial action regarding an alleged violation; and
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights.

An employer's adverse action against an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising a protected right creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation (i.e., the burden is on the employer to prove that the action was not based on retaliation).

San Diego, California Municipal Code Sec. 39.0111.

San Francisco Flexible Working Arrangements

San Francisco has various ordinances that protect an employee's right to a flexible or predictable work schedule. Under the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, an employer may not retaliate against an employee who requests flexible working arrangements. See Managing Employees in Special Situations: Federal.

In addition, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed two ordinances, the San Francisco Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances (also known as the "Retail Worker Bill of Rights"). See Managing Employees in Special Situations: Federal. The ordinances are meant to add to the protections included in the City's Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (in case of a conflict, the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance prevails). See Managing Employees in Special Situations: Federal.

The Predictable Scheduling and Fair Treatment for Formula Retail Employees Ordinance (No. 141024) aims to regularize fluctuating and "erratic" schedules of certain workers within the City and County of San Francisco.

Covered employees include those that are:

  • Covered under the local minimum wage ordinance; and
  • Scheduled for an on-call shift for at least two hours (whether or not the workers are required to report to work for the shift).

Covered employers include an owner or operator of a "formula retail establishment" (defined by the Planning Code as having at least 40 retail sales establishments located worldwide) with 20 or more employees in San Francisco.

A related ordinance (No. 140880) aims to regulate the employment of part-time workers so as to minimize the incidence of "involuntary part-time work." The ordinance requires an employer to offer a part-time worker additional hours before seeking additional staffing solutions. In addition, the ordinance encourages the retention of employees upon a change of control.

Both ordinances include retaliation protections for covered employees. Specifically, an employer is prohibited from discharging, threatening to discharge, demoting, suspending, diminishing job responsibilities, failing to promote, assigning fewer hours or less desirable shifts or otherwise taking adverse actions against any employee in retaliation for exercising rights guaranteed under the ordinances.

An employer may also be liable for "predictability pay" if it requires an employee to come into work for a previously unscheduled shift. The ordinance's implementing regulations (Rule 6.1) clarify that an employer requires an employee to come into work for a previously unscheduled shift if it pressures or coerces an employee to come into work. Examples of pressuring or coercing include:

  • Taking or threatening to take any adverse employment action against an employee if the employee declines the shift change; and
  • Suggesting or implying that the employer may take an adverse employment action against the employee if the employee declines the shift change.

San Francisco Paid Parental Leave

San Francisco has passed the Paid Parental Leave for Bonding with New Child Ordinance (PPLO). See FMLA: California. The PPLO requires covered employers to provide supplemental compensation to employees who are receiving California Paid Family Leave for purposes of bonding with a new child.

The PPLO includes retaliation protections for employees who exercise their rights under the law. Specifically, the PPLO prohibits an employer or other person from the following actions based on an employee's exercise of PPLO rights:

  • Terminate;
  • Threaten to terminate;
  • Demote;
  • Suspend; or
  • Discriminate.

The law also prohibits an employer from interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any protected PPLO right.

Protected activities under the PPLO include the right to:

  • File a complaint or inform any person about an employer's alleged violation of the law;
  • Cooperate with an enforcement agency in its investigations of alleged violations of the law; and
  • Inform any person of his or her possible rights under the law.

Taking an adverse action against an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising a right under the PPLO will result in a rebuttable presumption of retaliation. This means that unless an employer can show by clear and convincing evidence that it took the adverse action based on a factor other than the employee's protected activity, then it will be deemed to have violated the law by retaliating against an employee.

San Francisco, California Police Code Section 3300H.7, added by Ordinance No. 160065.

San Francisco Workers Privacy Ordinance

San Francisco's Workers Privacy Ordinance specifically bars discipline for some lawful off-duty conduct, by prohibiting employers from making, adopting, or enforcing "any rule or policy forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in personal relationships, organizations, activities, or otherwise restricting their freedom of association", unless this conduct would have an impact on the employees' ability to perform their work. San Francisco, California Police Code SEC. 3300A.1; San Francisco, California Police Code SEC. 3300A.3.

San Jose Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of San Jose has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising protected rights.

San Jose, California Code of Ordinances, Sec. 4.100.070.

San Jose Opportunity to Work Ordinance

San Jose employers covered under the city's Opportunity to Work Ordinance are prohibited from discriminating in any manner or taking adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. See Managing Employees in Special Situations: Federal.

San Jose, California Code of Ordinances, Sec. 4.101.050; Sec. 4.100.070.

San Leandro Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of San Leandro has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections. San Leandro, California Code of Ordinances Section 4-35-700.

Specifically, the ordinance prohibits an employer from discriminating or taking adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance, including:

  • Filing a complaint;
  • Informing any person about any party's possible noncompliance with the ordinance's provisions;
  • Informing any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance; and
  • Assisting any person in asserting his or her rights under the ordinance.

Retaliation protections apply to any person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the ordinance. Taking an adverse action against a person within 90 days of the person's exercise of rights under the ordinance raises a rebuttable presumption of retaliation - an employer is presumed to have retaliated against any employee unless it can prove otherwise.

Failure to comply may result in an administrative citation of $500 for each employee retaliated against. San Leandro, California Code of Ordinances Section 4-35-700. In the event of a violation, the City may require an employer to post public notice of the employer's failure to comply.

San Mateo Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of San Mateo has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not terminate an employee, reduce his or her compensation or the number of hours worked, or reassign an employee's duties in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City; and
  • Asserting his or her potential rights under the ordinance.

If an employer terminates, reduces the compensation of or reassigns an employee within 120 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show, by clear and convincing evidence, a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

Santa Clara Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Santa Clara has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. Specifically, an employer may not discriminate or take adverse action against any person for exercising rights protected under the ordinance, including:

  • Filing a complaint;
  • Informing a person of his or her potential rights; and
  • Assisting another in asserting his or her rights.

Santa Clara, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 3.20.070.

Santa Monica Minimum Wage Ordinance

The City of Santa Monica has passed a minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance contains retaliation protections for employees who engage in protected activities. An employer may not terminate an employee, reduce his or her compensation, discriminate or displace in retaliation for exercising rights protected under the ordinance. These rights include:

  • Making a complaint to the City; and
  • Opposing any practice that is unlawful under the ordinance.

If an employer terminates, reduces the compensation of or demotes an employee within 90 days of that employee exercising rights under the ordinance, the employer is presumed to have retaliated against the employee and will have to show a nonretaliatory reason for the adverse action.

Santa Monica, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 4.62.060; 4.62.070.

Future Developments

Oakland Hotel Minimum Wage and Working Conditions

Oakland voters approved Measure Z, an ordinance that sets minimum wage and working conditions for hotel workers. See HR and Workplace Safety: California. The ordinance contains retaliation protections.

Specifically, a hotel employer is prohibited from discharging, reducing the compensation of or otherwise discriminating against any person for:

  • Making a complaint to the City;
  • Participating in any of its proceedings;
  • Using any civil remedies to enforce his or her rights; or
  • Otherwise asserting his or her rights under the ordinance.

Hotel employer means:

  • A person who owns, controls, and/or operates a hotel (i.e. a structure containing 50 or more guest rooms or suites of rooms) in the City of Oakland;
  • A person who owns, controls and/or operates any contracted, leased or sublet premises connected to or operated in conjunction with the hotel's purpose; or
  • A person, other than a hotel employee, who provides services at the hotel.

If a hotel employer discharges any person who has engaged in activities protected under the ordinance within 120 days of the employer being notified of the protected activities, then there is a rebuttable presumption (i.e. an assumption unless proved otherwise) that the employer retaliated unless there is clear and convincing evidence of just cause for the termination. Oakland, California Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.93.040.

In addition, covered employees must be provided with a panic button. If a hotel employee encounters a situation that requires his or her use of the panic button, the hotel employee may cease working and remove him/herself from the situation to await the arrival of the employee or security guard responsible for providing immediate assistance. No hotel employee may be disciplined for ceasing work under these circumstances. Oakland, California, Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.93.020(B)(1).

No hotel employee may be disciplined for use of a panic button absent clear and convincing evidence the hotel employee knowingly and intentionally made a false claim of emergency. Oakland, California, Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.93.020(B)(2).

Finally, a hotel employee may consent to working more than 10 hours in any workday. However, no consent is valid unless the hotel employer has advised the hotel employee in writing not more than 30 days preceding the consent that:

  • The hotel employee may decline to work more than 10 hours in a workday; and
  • The hotel employer will not subject the hotel employee to any adverse action for declining.

Oakland, California, Code of Ordinances Sec. 5.93.030(C).

The City's Department of Workplace and Employment Standards will enforce the ordinance, which takes effect July 1, 2020.

Petaluma Minimum Wage Ordinance

Effective January 1, 2020, a covered employer in Petaluma must pay a minimum wage to covered employees for each hour worked within city limits. The minimum wage differs depending on the size of the employer. The ordinance contains retaliation protections.

Specifically, the law prohibits an employer from taking the following actions against an employee for taking part in a protected activity under the ordinance:

  • Discharging an employee;
  • Reducing an employee's compensation;
  • Taking adverse action against an employee; or
  • Otherwise discriminating against any employee.

Protected activities include:

  • Opposing any practice proscribed by the ordinance;
  • Participating in proceedings related to the ordinance;
  • Seeking to enforce rights under the ordinance by any lawful means; or
  • Otherwise asserting rights under the ordinance.

Retaliation protections apply to any person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the ordinance.

Taking adverse action against a person within 120 days of the person's exercise of protected rights raises a rebuttable presumption (i.e., an assumption unless contested) of having done so in retaliation.

An employer may not fund increases in compensation or otherwise comply with the ordinance by:

  • Reducing the wage rate paid to any employee; or
  • Increasing charges for employee parking, meals, uniforms or other items.

Petaluma, California Code of Ordinances, Section 8.35.060.

Remedies for violations of the ordinance include administrative penalties and court-ordered remedies. Remedies include:

  • Back wages;
  • Civil penalty of $50.00 for each employee whose rights were violated for each day;
  • Award of interest due;
  • Injunctive relief;
  • Reasonable attorney fees;
  • Witness fees;
  • Costs;
  • For retaliation violations:
    • Reinstatement
    • Restoration of employee to status prior to the violation; and
    • Award of treble wages lost due to the violation.
    • Petaluma, California Code of Ordinances, Section 8.35.070.

      See Minimum Wage: California;

      Petaluma, California Municipal Code Chapter 8.35, as enacted by Ordinance 2691.

      Sonoma Minimum Wage Ordinance

      Effective January 1, 2020, a  covered employer in Sonoma must pay a minimum wage to covered employees for each hour worked within city limits. The minimum wage differs depending on the size of the employer. The ordinance contains retaliation protections.

      Specifically, the law prohibits an employer from taking the following actions against an employee for taking part in a protected activity under the ordinance:

      • Discharging an employee;
      • Reducing an employee's compensation; or
      • Otherwise discriminating against any employee.

      Protected activities include:

      • Opposing any practice proscribed by the ordinance;
      • Participating in proceedings related to the ordinance;
      • Seeking to enforce rights under the ordinance by any lawful means;
      • Otherwise asserting rights under the ordinance;
      • Filing a complaint or informing any person about any party's alleged noncompliance with the ordinance; and
      • Informing any person of potential rights or assisting others in asserting such rights.

      Retaliation protections apply to any person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges noncompliance with the ordinance.

      Taking adverse action against a person within 120 days of the person's exercise of protected rights raises a rebuttable presumption (i.e., an assumption unless contested) of having done so in retaliation.

      An employer may not fund increases in compensation or otherwise comply with the ordinance by:

      • Reducing the wage rate paid to any employee; or
      • Increasing charges for employee parking, meals, uniforms or other items.

      Sonoma, California Code of Ordinances, Section 2.80.060.

      There are no other developments to report at this time. Continue to check XpertHR regularly for the latest information on this and other topics.