Reporting by School Employees of Improper Governmental Activities
(a) A public school employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer who files a written complaint with his or her supervisor, a school administrator, or the public school employer alleging actual or attempted acts of reprisal, retaliation, threats, coercion, or similar improper acts prohibited by Section 44113 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 a public school 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. Any public school 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 44113 occurred, the local law enforcement agency may report the nature and details of the activity to the governing board of the school district or county board of education, as appropriate.
(c) 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 a public school 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.
(d) 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 a public school employee or applicant for employment with a public school employer if the public school employer, school administrator, or supervisor reasonably believes the 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 44112.
(e) 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 public school 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 public school 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 public school employee in any administrative review, challenge, or adjudication in which retaliation has been demonstrated to be a contributing factor, the public school employee shall have a complete affirmative defense in the adverse action.
(f) Nothing in this article shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of a public school employee under any other federal or state law or under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.
(g) 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. 2001, Ch. 159, Sec. 68.)
Education Code 44112
Education Code 44113
Government Code 3540