New legislation gives the California Labor Commissioner new powers when it comes to dealing with workplace retaliation claims. SB 306 grants the Labor Commissioner the authority to seek an “immediate and temporary” injunction against an employer when an employee alleges retaliation for reporting violations of the law, including safety violations.

The new law also gives the commissioner the ability to issue citations and penalties directly to enforce retaliation claims, rather than seek such sanctions in superior court, as is currently the law. The Labor Commissioner will be able to initiate a retaliation investigation without having received a complaint if it learns of potential violations while adjudicating a wage claim, conducting a field investigation, or during instances of “immigration-related threats.”

Additional legislation addressing refinery safety was recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, including:

  • AB 55 tightens requirements for a “skilled and trained” workforce in the state’s oil refineries. Workers will have to complete at least 20 hours of advanced safety training at high-hazard facilities to qualify as a “skilled journeyperson,” starting in July 2018.
  • AB 1649 codifies the state’s Interagency Task Force on Refinery Safety, which was formed in the wake of the 2012 Chevron explosion, and provided recommendations that led to Cal/OSHA’s revised process safety management regulation. The permanent task force will provide “enhanced oversight” and strengthen emergency preparedness.

Visit the Cal/OSHA Reporter webpage for additional information.