What You Need to Know About CA’s SB 497: Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act

How California’s New Law Helps Employees to Establish Retaliation Claims

If an employer violates an employee’s rights, that employee should be able to report the wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. To protect the rights of employees across the state of California, Governor Newsom recently signed into law the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, Senate Bill 497. Here is what you need to know about Senate Bill 497 and how it affects California workers and their employers.

If you feel your rights have been violated by your employer, contact the Los Angeles employment lawyers at Levin & Nalbandyan. Experienced in a wide range of employment law violations, we fight on behalf of workers who have experienced workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wage disputes, and more. Call our office today at (213) 232-4848  to discuss your case with a workers’ rights attorney for FREE.

What Is California’s Equal Pay and Anti-retaliation Protection Act?

Senate Bill 497, California’s Equal Pay and Anti-retaliation Protection Act, is an amendment to the state’s Labor Code that creates a presumption of retaliation if an employee is fired, demoted, suspended, or otherwise disciplined within 90 days of exercising their rights under the California Labor Code. 

Acts Protected Under California’s Labor Code

Protected acts are those related to invoking or pursuing enforcement of specified Labor Code provisions. These provisions include any action the employee takes that alerts their employer or the authorities of a violation of their rights.

Examples include notifying management of unsafe working conditions, exercising their right to 10-minute rest periods and 30-minute unpaid meal breaks, or filing a claim for unpaid wages with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Other protected acts include filing a sexual harassment complaint or claiming discrimination based on his or her immigration status.

Employers Have the Right to Refute a Presumption of Retaliation

Under California SB 497, a prima facie, or “at first glance,” case of retaliation is automatically established. In other words, the bill allows the Labor Commissioner to immediately presume retaliation against the employee has occurred. However, the employer is afforded the right to rebut or dispute the presumption of retaliation by showing legitimate non-retaliatory grounds for the adverse action taken against the worker. 

If the employer in question provides information to support their claim that the adverse actions were not taken in an effort to punish the worker, the burden then shifts back to the employee. He or she will then need to establish that, while the employer is attempting to justify their actions, those actions were nonetheless retaliatory.

What Happens If an Employer Is Found to Have Retaliated Against an Employee?

To further encourage employees to exercise their rights and to discourage employers from retaliating against them, SB 497 imposes a financial penalty against the employer. Employees who experience retaliation will now be able to collect a penalty of up to $10,000 from their employer. Currently, penalties imposed on lawbreaking employers are only collected by the state.

When Does California Senate Bill 497 Go Into Effect?

While California’s Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act was signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 8, 2023, the legislation will not go into effect until January 1, 2024. 

Call Levin & Nalbandyan Today to Learn More

Mistreated employees have the right to stand up to their employers. While some employers work to intimidate workers and keep them from reporting any wrongdoing, SB 497 helps to encourage employees to come forth and protects them against retaliation for doing so. And should employees experience retaliation, the Equal Pay and Anti-retaliation Protection Act also provides a legal avenue to hold employers accountable for their actions.

Were your rights violated by your employer? You may be protected under California’s SB 497. Contact Levin & Nalbandyan today to learn more about the protections afforded by this legislation and to discuss your available options. Our employment law attorneys in Los Angeles are dedicated to upholding justice on behalf of mistreated employees and will advocate strongly on your behalf to get you the resolution you deserve. Call (213) 232-4848 today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.




If your claim has been denied or your attorney has decided to give up, reach out to our firm for a second opinion.