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Workplace Retaliation in California: What Are Your Rights?

If you are working in the state of California, you likely know that there are laws to protect you from workplace discrimination and harassment. But what you may not know is that these same laws are also in place to protect you from workplace retaliation and negative employment actions that could be unfairly enforced by your employer. But how do you know if you have been subjected to retaliation at work?

This article will fill you in on California workplace retaliation laws, the tell-tale signs of employer retaliation and what you can do to protect your rights today. 

If you are working in the state of California, you likely know that there are laws to protect you from workplace discrimination and harassment. But what you may not know is that these same laws are also in place to protect you from workplace retaliation and negative employment actions that could be unfairly enforced by your employer. But how do you know if you have been subjected to retaliation at work?

This article will fill you in on California workplace retaliation laws, the tell-tale signs of employer retaliation and what you can do to protect your rights today.

What is Workplace Retaliation?

If your employer has punished you for engaging in activities that are protected under state and federal law, then you have been subjected to workplace retaliation.

For example, in the state of California, it is unlawful for your employer to punish you for filing workplace discrimination or harassment complaints, or willfully participating in workplace investigations. Types of workplace retaliation include negative actions like an increase in workload, unfair demotions, firings, salary reductions, job or shift reassignments and leaving employees out of growth and mentoring opportunities within the company.

When is Workplace Retaliation in California Considered Unlawful?

Under California law, workplace retaliation is unlawful if your employer punishes you for protected activities which include: reporting illegal conduct, refusing to engage in illegal conduct, reporting fraud, filing a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner, filing discrimination lawsuits, complaining of workplace discrimination or harassment and assisting other employees in filing a lawsuit or complaint of illegal activity in the workplace.

Federal law also protects you from workplace retaliation if you file a discrimination or harassment complaint at work. The law even protects you if our skilled employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz Law Firm help you with filing your complaint to an outside organization like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Your employer also cannot lawfully punish you for cooperating with EEOC investigations or if you decide to serve as a witness against your employer. This is also true with whistleblower activities such as complaining of unsafe working conditions.

Signs Your Employer is Retaliating Against You

Though it can be plain as day when an employer has decided to unlawfully retaliate against you - such as immediate termination shortly after filing a harassment complaint - other times it's not as clear. If you're unsure whether you've been subjected to workplace retaliation, first consider the circumstances of the negative action. For example, if you're a single mother and your employer reduces your pay shortly after you file a discrimination complaint, this could constitute illegal workplace retaliation. Keep in mind that only those changes that have an adverse effect on your employment are considered retaliatory.

That said, if you do engage in any "protected activity" that we outlined previously, and your employer begins to engage in any of the following unlawful, retaliatory behaviors, you should contact an expert attorney at Hennig Ruiz Law Firm to discuss your options for filing a workplace retaliation complaint:

  • unfair disciplinary action
  • negative performance reviews
  • micromanagement shortly after filing a complaint
  • exclusion from project meetings that you've been working on
  • denial of ongoing training
  • denial of promotions
  • denial of raises
  • increased workload
  • termination

If you feel you've been subjected to employee retaliation and have documented and presented your retaliation internally to no avail, let the expert employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz Law Firm help you build your workplace retaliation case today.

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