SB 306 Passes: Allowing Investigations for Retaliation or Discrimination During Wage Claim

Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 306 (Hertzberg) today. This bill authorizes the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (division) 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.

The bill also authorizes the commissioner, upon finding reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in or is engaging in a violation, to petition a superior court for prescribed injunctive relief. The bill requires a court, if an employee has been discharged or faced adverse action for raising a claim of retaliation for asserting rights under any law under the jurisdiction of the commissioner, to order appropriate injunctive relief on a showing that reasonable cause exists to believe a violation has occurred. The bill provides that temporary injunctive relief under these provisions would not prohibit an employer from disciplining or terminating an employee for conduct that is unrelated to the claim of the retaliation.

SB 306 authorizes the commissioner to issue citations directing specific relief to persons determined to be responsible for violations. The bill would establish review procedures, including procedures for requesting a hearing before a hearing officer for the commissioner and for a petition for a writ of mandate. It authorizes the commissioner to adopt regulations to establish hearing procedures. Subjecting an employer who willfully refuses to comply with a final order pursuant to the bill to prescribed civil penalties payable to the affected employee.

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