Littler Mendelson Offers Tips for Avoiding Employee Lawsuits Under New Law

San Francisco, CA (October 9, 2004) -- California 's so-called "Sue Your Boss" law was successfully amended last month with Gov. Schwarzenegger's signing of Senate Bill 1809. The revised law, officially known as the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, eases some of the provisions of the original, but does not eliminate litigation risks for California employers and out-of-state companies doing business in California.

Attorneys at Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm, recommend employers take these steps to minimize the risk of being sued under the new law, which is now in effect:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the state labor code, especially the provisions relating to payroll and workplace injuries.
  2. Conduct an audit of the workplace procedures and practices that are governed by the labor code to ensure that your workplace is in compliance with the code's requirements.
  3. Designate a particular person to be responsible for reviewing and responding to all notices of alleged violations. Provide training to that person about the requirements of the amended Sue Your Boss law, including the time limitations for responding to such notices, so that you can ensure that any claimed violations are properly and timely cured.
  4. If an action is brought by an aggrieved employee, promptly investigate and document all circumstances that would justify an award of lesser penalties.


The original version of the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 authorized any "aggrieved" employee to bring a civil action on his/her behalf and on behalf of current or former fellow employees for alleged violations of the state labor code. The act, signed into law by then-Gov. Gray Davis, was meant to compensate for shrinking government resources dedicated to investigation and prosecution of labor violations. Employers were concerned that the act invited frivolous actions with potential massive penalties for hyper-technical violations of the labor code.

Revisions outlined in Senate Bill 1809 limit the scope of the actions that can be brought against employers and provide for judicial oversight of the process. As a result of the revisions,

  • No action can be brought for any violation of a posting, notice, agency reporting or filing requirement of the labor code except those related to mandatory payroll or workplace injury reporting.
  • A court may award lesser penalties than the maximum amount allowed if the award would otherwise be "unjust, arbitrary and oppressive, or confiscatory."
  • The superior court must review and approve all penalties included in a settlement agreement of claims under the act.
  • An aggrieved employee must give notice of certain alleged violations and allow the employer an opportunity to "cure" the violations before bringing a civil action, and if the violations are cured by the employer, no action can be maintained by the employee for those violations.

Littler Mendelson attorneys have kept a close watch on the amendment process and are available to answer questions about the ramifications of the revised Sue Your Boss law for employers.

About Littler Mendelson

With more than 400 attorneys and 28 offices in major metropolitan areas nationwide, Littler Mendelson is the largest law firm in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in employment, employee benefits and labor law matters. The firm's client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to small-business owners. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential cases and labor contracts in the nation's history. For more information, visit