SB 496 adds protections for whistleblowers

The governor signed SB 496 into law.  SB 496 adds provisions to two whistleblower laws. 

The existing California Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits retaliation against a state employee for making a protected disclosure relating to an improper governmental activity.  An employee who claims violation of the Act may seek remedies with the State Personnel Board or in a civil action.  SB 496 makes the procedure for seeking remedies easier.  It provides that when an employee brings a complaint to the State Personnel Board regarding an alleged violation of the California Whistleblower Protection Act which is consolidated with another matter (such as a disciplinary appeal, for example), the State Personnel Board must render a decision within six months.  SB 496 also clarifies that a civil action under the California Whistleblower Protection Act is exempt from the administrative claims presentation requirements of the Government Claims Act.

Labor Code section 1102.5 provides certain protections to both public sector and private sector whistleblowers.  The statute protects employees of the state, local public entities such as cities and counties, and schools, in addition to private sector workers.  Labor Code section 1102.5 provides that an employer may not adopt or enforce a policy against reporting violations of state or federal statutes, rules or regulations, nor may an employer retaliate against an employee for doing so.  SB 496 adds that employees reporting violations of local rules, regulations, and policies—such as local ordinances, city codes, and other local rules and regulations—are also protected under the law.

By Anne Yen | October 21, 2013

Legal Developments