As in other states, the anti-SLAPP statute in California protects petition and free speech rights under the US and California Constitutions by opposing “strategic lawsuits against public participation” or SLAPPs. Besides free speech, California law also protects statements made before or in connection with "official proceedings authorized by law."
What Are SLAPP Lawsuits?
The SLAPP lawsuits are typically filed only to harass the other party and to stifle public criticism. Like other anti-SLAPP laws, California statute provides for a special anti-SLAPP motion to defeat such groundless and vexatious lawsuits. Once the motion is filed, a hearing is scheduled and all discovery ceases.
What’s Unique About California?
Interestingly, California accounts for a significant portion of SLAPP litigation in the United States. For example, in 2009, 1,386 reported cases originated in California, while all other states accounted for only 341 cases.
Why does California account for so many SLAPP related cases? California allows for more fairness in its anti-SLAPP law, for example:
- California limits anti-SLAPP motions in cases involving class actions, public interest and commercial issues.
- California expands SLAPP victim’s rights by allowing recovery of damages through "SLAPPback" lawsuits, which permit defendants successful in SLAPP lawsuits to sue the opposing plaintiff.
- California applies its anti-SLAPP law in local federal district courts.
California Anti-SLAPP for Employers
California’s anti-SLAPP law applies in the employment litigation context because the statute broadly defines protected activities. Public employers may bring an anti-SLAPP motion in response to an employee’s lawsuit. In other words, a public agency’s investigation into or termination of an employee pursuant to its "official proceedings" may be protected.
Do I Need to Seek an Anti-SLAPP Attorney?
A California government attorney will help you determine where to file your anti-SLAPP motion. Winning this motion entitles you to recovery of attorney’s fees. A qualified attorney may advise you about anti-SLAPP implications of your employment lawsuit and may also help you file a SLAPPback action to recover damages.