California Supreme Court Watch

Sep 01, 2021
Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc., S269456.

#21-435 Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc., S269456. (G057831; nonpublished opinion; Orange County Superior Court; 30-2017-00950004.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in a civil action. This case presents the following issue: Does Labor Code section 1102.5, subdivision (b), which protects an employee from retaliation for disclosing unlawful activity, apply when the information is already known to that person or agency?

Petition for review granted: 9/01/2021

Opinion filed; remanded to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings consistent with this opinion: 5/22/2023

See the Court of Appeal Opinion.

See the Petition for Review.

See the Oral Argument.

See the California Supreme Court Opinion.  (People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s, Inc. (2023) 14 Cal.5th 719.)

“The Labor Code prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for ‘disclosing information’ concerning suspected violations of the law either internally or to government or law enforcement agencies. (Lab. Code, § 1102.5, subd. (b) (section 1102.5(b)) ….) Violators are subject to various sanctions, including civil penalties remitted to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) of the Department of Industrial Relations. (Id., subd. (f).) In this case, employee A.C.R. complained to the owner of the nightclub where she worked about unpaid wages she was owed. In response, her employer fired her, threatened to report her to immigration authorities, and told her never to return to the nightclub. … It is undisputed that the employer’s conduct was prohibited by the Labor Code. The question here is whether a report of unlawful activities made to an employer or agency that already knew about the violation is a protected ‘disclosure’ within the meaning of section 1102.5(b). We hold it is.”

Majority Opinion by Liu, J.
— joined by Guerrero, C. J., Corrigan, Kruger, Groban, Jenkins, and Evans, JJ