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Empowering California Workers: SB 1044 Protects Employees from Retaliation

SB 1044 Protects Employees from Retaliation for Refusing to Work in Emergency Conditions

Emergencies can be overwhelming, and the added pressure of having to go to work only compounds the stress. To combat this, California has passed Senate Bill 1044, which gives employees the power to prioritize their safety and well-being without fear of losing their job or facing any other form of punishment.

Enacted in January 2023, SB 1044 not only prohibits employers from taking retaliatory action against employees who refuse to report to work during emergency conditions, but it also empowers workers to speak up for their safety without fear of repercussions. This landmark legislation represents a significant win for the rights of California's workers and sets a strong example for other states to follow.

What qualifies as an “Emergency Condition?”

Employees are protected if either of the following applies:

  1. the workplace is an emergency-affected area and the employee has reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe, or

  2. the employee has been ordered to evacuate their home, workplace, or their child’s school has been ordered to evacuate due to a natural disaster or a criminal act.

Further, under SB 1044, employers are now prohibited from blocking their employees from using mobile or other communications devices to seek emergency assistance, assess the safety of their surroundings, or reach out to loved ones to verify their safety. This ensures that workers have the tools they need to stay safe and informed during a crisis. Additionally, employees are required to notify their employer of the emergency condition, but only when feasible. This balance of responsibility and protection makes SB 1044 a critical safeguard for employees in California.

What doesn’t qualify as an “Emergency Condition?”

While SB 1044 offers robust protections for employees in emergency situations, there are limitations. For example, health pandemics like COVID-19 are not classified as emergency conditions under this law.

These new protections only apply during ongoing emergencies that pose a risk of harm to the workplace, the worksite, the worker, or the worker’s home. Once the emergency has ceased, these protections may no longer apply.

Which types of employees are excluded from this law?

Certain employees are excluded from the protections of this law, including:

  • first responders,

  • disaster service workers,

  • employees of licensed residential healthcare facilities,

  • employees or contractors who provide patient care during emergencies or who are required to help in emergency response, and

  • employees working on a military base.

In the face of an emergency, the last thing you need is to suffer additional harm or retaliation from your employer. If you find yourself in this situation, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact us at Payton Employment Law, PC for a confidential review of your case. Don’t wait – reach out to us today and let us fight for your rights.

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The information provided in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All content and information in this blog post are for general informational purposes only. Reading this blog post does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only created by written agreement.

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