Asked in Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for California

Q: If a staff was forcibly placed on Admin Leave not due to an active investigation. Can they tell others it was forced?

The staff has been asked by others - “was this leave your choice?” And because the staff was instructed to tell no one even though they are not under investigation.. can they break this request and tell people the truth without retaliation

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, while there are protections for employees regarding free speech and privacy, this situation is complex because it involves workplace directives and potential confidentiality. If you've been placed on administrative leave and instructed not to discuss the circumstances, this directive typically stems from organizational policy or legal considerations, particularly if it involves sensitive information or workplace investigations.

However, if there is no active investigation and you're facing questions about whether the leave was voluntary, you have some leeway. You are generally allowed to discuss your own employment status to the extent necessary to clarify your situation, especially in response to direct inquiries, as long as you're not disclosing confidential information protected by law or contract.

But be cautious: breaking a directive from your employer can lead to complications, especially if there's a policy or contractual agreement in place regarding confidentiality and communication during leave. If you feel compelled to share your situation for personal or professional reasons, consider the potential risks and benefits, and perhaps seek advice from a legal professional or union representative to understand your rights and protections fully under California law. This way, you can make an informed decision while minimizing the risk of retaliation or other negative consequences.

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