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Changes to the "Sue Your Boss" Bill

SB 1809 was signed by Governor last week to amend SB 796, the "Sue Your Boss" bill, which allowed private attorneys to sue employers on behalf of workers for any violation of the State Labor Code, regardless of the severity of the violation. The law did not require that an employee suffer any injury, harm or disadvantage to sue and collect.

Under the changes agreed to by the Assembly and Senate leadership, lawsuits can no longer be filed over trivial violations of the State Labor Code; employers have a "right to cure" more serious violations before they can be sued; aggrieved employees must first go through an administrative process before heading to court, and settlements of suits under the statute must be approved by a judge. Penalties against companies can be lowered by judges if deemed excessive and unfair.

One key overhaul to SB 796 is that the provision barring penalties for posting, filings or reporting requirements (except mandatory payroll and workplace injury reporting) applies retroactively to all pending cases filed since January 1, 2004.

Other reforms contained in SB 1809 include:

  • No posting, filing or reporting requirements are subject to a lawsuit, with two exceptions: mandatory payroll and workplace injury reporting
  • Court review and approval of all settlements, and discretion to reduce penalties
  • A lawsuit is barred if the Labor Agency and/or Cal/OSHA cites and employer cures or abates
  • Establishment of specific procedures for the employer and aggrieved employee to follow prior to a lawsuit
  • The employer receives advance notice of potential violations prior to a suit being filed
  • Enhanced enforcement resources for the Labor Agency and the Cal/OSHA investigation, inspection and abatement process remain available to employers to resolve health and safety issues
  • Takes effect immediately


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