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Real-Life Case Examples of Workplace Retaliation in California

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Are you being subjected to retaliation at work? If you decide to stand up to discriminatory or harassing behaviors directed towards you or your colleagues by your employer, and then face negative treatment or termination, you could be a victim of workplace retaliation.

These illegal employer behaviors violate both Federal and California employment laws. But even though these laws are in place to protect your rights, workplace retaliation still occurs. In fact, the EEOC's Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted that in fiscal year 2011, retaliation charges represented 37.8% of all charges filed with the EEOC - the highest percentage of any claim for that year. Tamayo has also stated that "retaliation is a significant problem. It is crucial that employees are able to stand up against harassment without fear that the employer will punish them for speaking out."

Are you being subjected to retaliation at work? If you decide to stand up to discriminatory or harassing behaviors directed towards you or your colleagues by your employer, and then face negative treatment or termination, you could be a victim of workplace retaliation.

These illegal employer behaviors violate both Federal and California employment laws. But even though these laws are in place to protect your rights, workplace retaliation still occurs. In fact, the EEOC's Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted that in fiscal year 2011, retaliation charges represented 37.8% of all charges filed with the EEOC - the highest percentage of any claim for that year. Tamayo has also stated that "retaliation is a significant problem. It is crucial that employees are able to stand up against harassment without fear that the employer will punish them for speaking out."

The following workplace retaliation cases from the EEOC newsroom will help you learn more about your own employee rights, plus discover the types of employment issues that are negatively impacting California workers.

Examples of Workplace Retaliation in California

Brandman University to Pay $38,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit

San Francisco, CA - According to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC in 2011, David Branham, a Program Manager at the Brandman University Fairfield campus, was subjected to workplace retaliation in which he was disciplined and given additional responsibilities after raising complaints that older workers experienced age discrimination. The EEOC also charged that due to the retaliatory behaviors, he was forced to retire.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination based on age and protects workers who report such discrimination from retaliation.

"It is important for employers to have policies and practices in place to ensure that employees who protest discrimination are not subjected to retaliation," EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said.

Read the full story

EEOC Sues Morgan Hill Restaurant for Retaliation

SAN JOSE, CA - The Good Fork (formerly known as Fuzia Restaurant Group, Inc.) which operates three restaurants in Morgan Hill, California, terminated a worker who complained to management about sexual harassment. The EEOC charged a federal lawsuit as this behavior was in violation of federal law. Shortly after Fuzia dishwasher Regina Venegas informed the restaurant owner of a supervisor flashing his buttocks at her, Venegas was prohibited from clocking in for her shift, and was also told that the restaurant no longer had work for her.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.

"Punishing an employee who speaks up about discrimination is not only illegal but also toxic to the workplace," said EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. "It sends the message to your entire work force that an employee complains at his or her own peril and can encourage harassment to flourish."

Read the full story

Mountain View Holiday Inn Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

SAN JOSE, CA - A female employee was harassed and then retaliated against by her supervisor at the Holiday Inn Express Mountain View-Palo Alto. The EEOC charged an employment discrimination lawsuit for the federal law violation. Beatriz Garcia was a front desk clerk at the hotel and faced sexual harassment from her supervisor, including unwelcome touching, comments and threats in response to her complaints about harassment. The company then fired Garcia after she notified management about the sexual harassment, and discrimination against Mexican workers. And the retaliation didn't stop there. A management team member at the Holiday Inn called Garcia's manager at her new place of employment - warning him about Garcia and to also obtain her personal contact information.

"I came to this country to work hard and achieve the American dream. At the Holiday Inn Express, I found a great job but I also found sexual harassment and retaliation," said Garcia. "Soon after being promoted, I realized that the promotion came at a price I did not want to pay. I could not continue to work where I was being treated as a sexual object."

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Fisher Nut Company to Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit

SAN JOSE, CA - Fisher Nut Company, based in Modesto, California, agreed to pay $150,000 to seven Latina employees and to implement preventive measures to settle a federal lawsuit for retaliation. The EEOC investigated and found that these employees had been retaliated against for attending an informal meeting that led to this filing of a discrimination charge. Some of the Latina employees faced verbal threats, plus irrational warnings from supervisors including being warned for "laughing during the course of the work day." Some of the workers were also moved from various other jobs to an undesirable, entry-level almond-sorting position, and ultimately all of the women were wrongfully terminated within two months of attending the aforementioned informal meeting.

Retaliation for reporting or complaining about employment discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Fisher Nut Company, Civil Action No. CV 10-01794 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

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Fremont Toyota Sued For Harassment and Retaliation Against Afghani Employees

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Management at local car dealership, Fremont Toyota, violated federal law when it harassed Afghani-American employees due to their national origin. The general manager of Fremont Toyota called four Afghani-American salesmen "terrorists" during a staff meeting and proclaimed himself the dictator of the car dealership, threatening the salesmen with violence. Upon reporting the harassment, the four men faced retaliation. Fremont Toyota treated them so badly that the salesmen felt they had no other choice but to resign.

"My family fled Afghanistan because of the terrorism, dictatorship and lack of freedom there," said Mohammad Sawary, one of the salesmen. "Now in America, this man [the general manger] lashes out at us out in front of all of our coworkers, calling us 'terrorists' and proclaiming himself 'dictator' here at Fremont Toyota."

"Despite the diversity of the Bay Area, people are still being targeted for harassment due to their origins and stereotypes associated with their background. This type of behavior is not only illegal but it also goes against the grain of who we are - a nation mostly of immigrants and their descendants," said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.

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Delhi Mental Health Rehab Center to Pay $25,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A mental health rehabilitation center in the Central Valley agreed to settle an EEOC retaliation lawsuit in the amount of $25,000 and other relief. The Delhi, California-based California Psychiaatric Transitions, Inc. (CPT) wrongfully terminated a male employee in retaliation for helping female co-workers to oppose sexual harassment at work.

In 2006, the EEOC filed an initial lawsuit against CPT, asserting that a supervisor subjected female employees to ongoing crude sexual comments and unwelcome physical touching. The harassment lasted for a total of five years and also included boasts of his sexual activities, remarks about women's breasts and more.

Retaliation against an employee - for opposing discrimination, assisting others in filing charges, or participating in an EEOC investigations or subsequent lawsuit as a witness - violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as California laws.

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"After charges of sexual harassment were filed, CPT fired Mr. Mendoza but continued to employ the alleged harasser," said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. "We believe that CPT fired Mr. Mendoza because it did not want him to be in a position to testify about any ongoing harassment against female employees still working at the facility. This is plainly illegal, and the EEOC took appropriate action with a successful result."

Read the full story

You shouldn't have to choose between obeying the law and keeping your job. Our California workplace retaliation attorneys will fight for your rights and the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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