California Supreme Court Addresses State Employees' Whistleblower Protections

Before a state employee can bring suit under the California Whistleblower law, he or she must seek relief before the State Personnel Board. When the SPB issues "findings," or even when the SPB fails to do so in the time allowed,the law says that the employee may sue in Superior Court. But the court of appeal held that when, as in the present case, an employee receives adverse findings from the SPB, the employee must seek to overturn those findings before going to court.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision, 7-0. The high court held that an employee may proceed to court when the SPB issues or fails to issue findings within the prescribed time, and the employee need not seek a writ or a hearing before an administrative law judge first.

The case is State Bd. of Chiropractic v. Superior Court and the opinion is here.