California Empowers Employees with Easier Retaliation Claims

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California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law Senate Bill (“SB”) 497, a landmark piece of legislation designed to make it easier for employees to establish retaliation claims in the workplace. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2024.

How to Prove Retaliation Under the New Law?

Under the current law, an employee must show the following to make a prima facie case of retaliation:

  1. The employee engaged in a “protected activity” (e.g., filing a discrimination complaint or going on protected leave);
  2. The employer engaged in an “adverse action” against the employee (e.g., a discharge, demotion, threat of discharge or demotion, suspension, pay cut, or reduced hours); and
  3. A causal connection between the protected activity and adverse action.

Now, SB 497 will make it easier for an employee to establish point 3 as SB 497 creates a rebuttable presumption that a “causal connection” occurs if an adverse employment decision is made within 90 days of an employee engaging in the protected activity. For example, if an employee makes a complaint against his or her supervisor, and within 90 days of making the complaint, the employee is suspended, the employee will likely satisfy the initial burden of establishing a prima face case of retaliation.


In addition to other remedies, all employers will be liable for a civil penalty of $10,000 per employee per violation under the new law.

For more information on retaliation in California, please contact us at

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.