California Whistleblower Protections Expanded by New Law: SB 496

December 16, 2013

On October 12, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 496 into law to expand California’s whistleblower protections beginning January 1, 2014.  Specifically, it broadens Section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code, which prohibits employers from retaliating against their employees (e.g., firing) who report violations of the law to the government or a law enforcement agency.  The new bill now includes protections to whistleblowers who report illegal activities to another employee within the company who has the authority to investigate the claim, such as human resources or a manager.

Legislation expanding California whistleblower protectionsThe new law further prohibits employers from punishing employees for refusing to participate in illegal activities.  It also protects general counsel and compliance officers whose job responsibilities are to disclose activities they believe are violations of the law.

SB 496 will also amend section 19683 of the California Government Code.  Currently, when employees report activities made by their employers which they believe are illegal to the California State Personnel Board, the Board has 10 business days to commence a hearing or an investigation into the claims and another 60 business days to complete the findings.  If the Board consolidates these claims with similar claims in another appeal, there is no time limit as to when the Board must conclude its investigation; however, the new law now requires the Personnel Board to conclude a consolidated matter within 6 months and the Board may only extend the matter for up to an additional 45 days.

Laws that protect whistleblowers from retribution are crucial in allowing individuals to notify the government of potential wrongful conduct.  Under certain statutes, such as the California False Claims Act and the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers are also entitled to a portion of the government’s recovery.

Were You Retaliated Against By Your Employer For Reporting an Illegal Activity? 

If you believe that your employer may have violated a California whistleblower law, contact one of the California whistleblower lawyers at Gibbs Law Group LLP today for a free and confidential consultation.