Reporting by Community College Employees of Improper Governmental Activities
(a) An employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer who files a written complaint with his or her supervisor, a community college administrator, or the public school employer alleging actual or attempted acts of reprisal, retaliation, threats, coercion, or similar improper acts prohibited by Section 87163 for having disclosed improper governmental activities or for refusing to obey an illegal order may also file a copy of the written complaint with the local law enforcement agency, together with a sworn statement that the contents of the written complaint are true, or are believed by the affiant to be true, under penalty of perjury. The complaint filed with the local law enforcement agency shall be filed within 12 months of the most recent act of reprisal that is the subject of the complaint.
(b) A person who intentionally engages in acts of reprisal, retaliation, threats, coercion, or similar acts against an employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer for having made a protected disclosure is subject to a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year. An employee, officer, or administrator who intentionally engages in that conduct shall also be subject to discipline by the public school employer. If no adverse action is instituted by the public school employer, and it is determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that an act of reprisal, retaliation, threats, coercion, or similar acts prohibited by Section 87163, the local law enforcement agency may report the nature and details of the activity to the governing board of the community college district.
(c) (1) The State Personnel Board shall initiate a hearing or investigation of a written complaint of reprisal or retaliation as prohibited by Section 87163 within 10 working days of its submission. The executive officer of the State Personnel Board shall complete findings of the hearing or investigation within 60 working days thereafter, and shall provide a copy of the findings to the complaining employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer and to the appropriate supervisors, administrator, or employer. This hearing shall be conducted in accordance with Section 18671.2 of the Government Code, this part, and the rules of practice and procedure of the State Personnel Board. When the allegations contained in a complaint of reprisal or retaliation are the same as, or similar to, those contained in another appeal, the executive officer may consolidate the appeals into the most appropriate format. In these cases, the time limits described in this paragraph shall not apply.
(2) Notwithstanding Section 18671.2 of the Government Code, no costs associated with hearings of the State Personnel Board conducted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be charged to the board of governors. Instead, all of the costs associated with hearings of the State Personnel Board conducted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be charged directly to the community college district that employs the complaining employee, or with whom the complaining applicant for employment has filed his or her employment application.
(d) If the findings of the executive officer of the State Personnel Board set forth acts of alleged misconduct by the supervisor, community college administrator, or public school employer, the supervisor, administrator, or employer may request a hearing before the State Personnel Board regarding the findings of the executive officer. The request for hearing and any subsequent determination by the board shall be made in accordance with the board' s usual rules governing appeals, hearings, investigations, and disciplinary proceedings.
(e) If, after the hearing, the State Personnel Board determines that a violation of Section 87163 occurred, or if no hearing is requested and the findings of the executive officer conclude that improper activity has occurred, the board may order any appropriate relief, including, but not limited to, reinstatement, back pay, restoration of lost service credit if appropriate, and the expungement of any adverse records of the employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer who was the subject of the alleged acts of misconduct prohibited by Section 87163.
(f) Whenever the State Personnel Board determines that a supervisor, community college administrator, or public school employer has violated Section 87163, it shall cause an entry to that effect to be made in the supervisor's, community college administrator's, or public school employer's official personnel records.
(g) In order for the Governor and the Legislature to determine the need to continue or modify personnel procedures as they relate to the investigations of reprisals or retaliation for the disclosure of information by employees, the State Personnel Board, by June 30 of each year, shall submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature regarding complaints filed, hearings held, and legal actions taken pursuant to this section.
(h) In addition to all other penalties provided by law, a person who intentionally engages in acts of reprisal, retaliation, threats, coercion, or similar acts against an employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer for having made a protected disclosure shall be liable in an action for damages brought against him or her by the injured party. Punitive damages may be awarded by the court where the acts of the offending party are proven to be malicious. Where liability has been established, the injured party shall also be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees as provided by law. However, an action for damages shall not be available to the injured party unless the injured party has first filed a complaint with the local law enforcement agency. Nothing in this subdivision requires an injured party to file a complaint with the State Personnel Board prior to seeking relief for damages in a court of law.
(i) This section is not intended to prevent a public school employer, school administrator, or supervisor from taking, failing to take, directing others to take, recommending, or approving a personnel action with respect to an employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer if the public school employer, school administrator, or supervisor reasonably believes an action or inaction is justified on the basis of evidence separate and apart from the fact that the person has made a protected disclosure as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 87162.
(j) In any civil action or administrative proceeding, once it has been demonstrated by a preponderance of evidence that an activity protected by this article was a contributing factor in the alleged retaliation against a former, current, or prospective employee, the burden of proof shall be on the supervisor, school administrator, or public school employer to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged action would have occurred for legitimate, independent reasons even if the employee had not engaged in protected disclosures or refused an illegal order. If the supervisor, school administrator, or public school employer fails to meet this burden of proof in an adverse action against the employee in any administrative review, challenge, or adjudication in which retaliation has been demonstrated to be a contributing factor, the employee shall have a complete affirmative defense in the adverse action.
(k) Nothing in this article shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of an employee under any other federal or state law or under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.
(l) If the provisions of this section are in conflict with the provisions of a memorandum of understanding reached pursuant to Chapter 10.7 (commencing with Section 3540) of Division 4 of Title 1 of the Government Code, the memorandum of understanding shall be controlling without further legislative action.
(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 81, Sec. 1.)
Education Code 87162
Education Code 87163
Government Code 3540
Government Code 18671.2