If you are in a situation where you are being harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, it is important to know that it is possible to sue your California employer while you are still employed. Do not think that quitting your job and getting justice are two mutually exclusive options — you can remain employed and file a suit against your employer.
Many workers who have faced discrimination or harassment at work get to a point where they have had enough. They may have formally complained to management or human resources, but have gotten nowhere. As this can be frustrating, some employees opt to take things into their own hands and hire a lawyer to sue their employer.
5 Steps for Suing Your Employer While Still Employed in California
1) Hire an Employment Attorney
The first thing that you need to do is consult with a California employment attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. Your lawyer can help you evaluate your legal options and provide you with specific advice in light of your particular circumstances.
2) Be Prepared to Be Terminated
There is no doubt that suing your employer while you are still employed is a tension-inducing situation. A lawsuit will probably make your employer upset, which could cause others to mistreat you at work or lead to you being heavily and unfairly scrutinized. You may even be illegally terminated from your position.
In California, it is illegal for an employer to fire you for suing them in good faith. Such an act is considered workplace retaliation. However, even though this is illegal, your employer may still choose to fire you for filing your suit. This is why it is important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for this very likely outcome.
3) Create Records
While you are still employed, take the opportunity to gather evidence that will support your claim. For instance, if you are being sexually harassed, keep a record of when the harasser approaches you or makes you feel uncomfortable.
Keep track of:
- When the harassment happens
- What the harassment was (i.e., inappropriate talk in the office, unwanted touching, etc.)
- What actions you took (i.e., asked the offender to stop or reporting the harassment to a supervisor)
- What happened as a result of your actions
4) Prepare and Submit a Formal Written Complaint
Put your complaint into writing, make a copy for yourself, and then turn in your written complaint in accordance with company policy. Make sure you keep track of when you filed the complaint, and how long it took for someone to respond to your complaint. You should also record what the response to your complaint was. Many times, workers will phone-in a complaint to human resources, and no record is ever made, which makes it difficult to prove later.
5) Get Contact Information for Potential Witnesses
Take some time to see if anyone would be willing to be a witness in your case. You probably have a good idea of who you can trust in your workplace, and you can ask these co-workers to testify for you. Collect the names and contact information for any potential witnesses, because you may have difficulty tracking them down if you are terminated.
California employees should never be harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, and it is illegal to terminate workers in retaliation for filing a lawsuit against an employer. If you need to sue the company you work for, let us help you fight for your rights. Feel free to contact one of our experienced employment discrimination and harassment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation about your situation.