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501.02000 – Burden of Proof; Evidence

In assessing the evidence presented in a retaliation case, PERB’s task is to determine whether the employer’s true motivation for taking the adverse action was the employee’s protected activity. PERB weighs the employer’s justifications for the adverse action against the evidence of the employer’s retaliatory motive. Once PERB determines that the employer did not take action for an unlawful reason, its inquiry is at an end; PERB has no authority to determine whether adverse action not motivated by protected activity was just or proper. PERB does not determine whether the employer had just cause to take adverse action, nor whether it was correct in its determination that the employee engaged in misconduct. Although there was direct evidence that the employer was motivated in part by employee’s protected activity in deciding to take adverse action, employer established that it would have taken the same action even if employee had not engaged in the protected activity. The evidence further failed to establish that the employer’s true motivation in deciding to suspend and terminate employee was based upon his protected activity rather than on its expressed concerns over his behavior in the workplace.