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At West Coast Employment Lawyers, our experienced workplace retaliation lawyers are readily available to assist victims who have been unfairly treated for engaging in a legal protected activity. We will review your case to determine what necessary course of action is needed to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to. 

To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated workplace retaliation lawyers, we welcome you to contact us by calling 213-927-3700, emailing [email protected], or completing our online contact form located on the bottom of the page.

Learn What You Can Do if You Were Retaliated Against by Your Employer for Exercising Your Legal Rights

In California, it is prohibited for an employer to commit unlawful actions against an employee for exercising their legal rights by filing or participating in a discrimination or harassment claim against them. If an employer does this, it is considered as workplace retaliation. 

Any employees who have been a victim to workplace retaliation are entitled to file a lawsuit against their employer to recover damages. You will need to seek legal representation from a workplace retaliation lawyer to help you through each step of the legal process. 

What Is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer negatively responds to an employee who is engaging in legally protected activity. Actions that fall under workplace retaliation include the following: hiring, firing, or demoting an employee. 

Adverse actions should never be taken against any employee simply for raising occupational safety or health concerns, or for reporting the occurrence of wrongdoing in the workplace. All employers have a legal duty to ensure a safe work environment and the consequences of engaging in workplace retaliation can be substantial. 

There are two types of workplace retaliation that employers have committed against employees: relation to opposition and retaliation to participation. 

Retaliation to opposition occurs when an employer demands to have an employee perform an illegal act whereas retaliation to participation is when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity, such as:

  • Participating in an agency investigation.
  • Filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Civil Rights Department (CRD).
  • Participating in a discrimination lawsuit.

What Laws Protect Employees Against Workplace Retaliation?

California has established labor and employment laws with some that are intended to protect employees from workplace retaliation. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is known as one of those laws that protects employees from being retaliated against for doing any of the following:

  • Opposing harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
  • Filing a complaint to FEHA.
  • Requesting to receive reasonable accommodations for a disability or religious beliefs or practices.

The California False Claims Act (CFCA) is another state law that restricts employers from retaliating against an employee. An employer must not make any unnecessary employment-related decisions that may harm an employee if that employee has reported them for any fraudulent or suspicious activity that is in violation of California’s labor and employment laws. 

The CFCA grants employees the legal right to file a lawsuit against their employers for committing any adverse employment action against them as a form of retaliation, such as wrongful termination or demotion. 

The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) has also been established to protect an employee from getting fired or retaliated against by their employer after filing a claim in regards to their suspicious or fraudulent behavior. This law will protect you regardless of whether your employer did or did not break any labor and employment laws. 

How Do I Know I’m a Victim of Workplace Retaliation? 

It can be a bit challenging to determine whether or not you are a victim of workplace retaliation. For instance, you are not fond of the way your employer has been communicating with you. You privately discussed the issue with them and as a result the employer began to approach you in a more welcoming, kind manner. This type of reaction will not fall under workplace retaliation. 

Workplace retaliation is more so directed towards employees who have exercised their legal rights and were met with an employer who made unnecessary employment-related decisions as a form of punishment against the employee. 

For instance, an employee realized that they were being discriminated against for being Muslim. The employee had enough evidence to file a complaint against the employer for violating California’s labor and employment laws. Once the employer became aware of this complaint, they terminated the employee from the workplace. In this circumstance, the employee is a victim of workplace retaliation and wrongful termination.

How Do I File a Workplace Retaliation Claim?

A workplace retaliation claim must be made in good faith in order for an employee to be entitled to protection against retaliation. If you do decide to file a lawsuit for retaliation, you’ll have to prove that:

  • You engaged in a legally protected activity.
  • Your employer took adverse action against you.
  • There is a direct connection between your activity and your employer’s action.

Once you have collected your evidence, you will need to file your retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office either online, in person, by mail, by email, through a phone call, or fax. You may also use a form to file your retaliation complaint.

After your complaint has been submitted, reviewed, and accepted, the Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit will assign an investigator to look into your claim. When the investigation has concluded, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will determine whether your employer has violated any laws, and if you should be granted any remedies as a result of your employer’s retaliatory actions. 

You may also file a complaint with the Civil Rights Department (CRD). You will need to report your complaint online through their Cal Civil Rights System, by mail, or by phone call. 

You will be given up to three years from the date of when the retaliation began or when it was discovered to take legal action against your employer. Once you have submitted your claim to the CRD, they will initiate an investigation to determine if your employer did commit workplace retaliation, and if you should be granted any remedies. 

If the CRD finds a reasonable cause, they will inform all parties involved that they will file a lawsuit in court. Before doing so, the CRD will request to have both parties go to mediation to reach an agreement to settle the dispute. If the case does not get resolved, then the lawsuit will head to court.

However, if you would rather not have the CRD investigate your case,  you may file your own lawsuit under FEHA. You will need to get an immediate Right to Sue Notice before doing so. In order to obtain a Right to Sue Notice, you will need to have the following details available:

  • The employer’s contact information and mailing address.
  • The contact information and mailing address of any other parties involved that you would like to file a workplace retaliation claim against.
  • The contact information and mailing address of the person who should receive a copy of the complaint, the manager of the Human Resources (HR) department, or the owner of the company. 

Once you have this information ready, you may file an online complaint or a printed complaint to the CRD. Once the CRD issues you a Right to Sue Notice, you will be given up to one year to file your lawsuit. 

How Can an Employer Respond to a Workplace Retaliation Claim?

There have been cases where an employer’s actions have convinced an employee that they were committing workplace retaliation, when in reality, an employer’s response to an employee’s legally protected activity could have been done without being motivated by retaliation. Below is a list of examples of what an employer’s intent could have been towards an employee.

  • The employer had a valid and non-retaliatory reason for the action it took, such as poor employee performance, misconduct, or necessary downsizing.
  • The employer was not actually aware of the protected activity.
  • Job applicants or employees who did not engage in protected activity were also treated the same way.
  • There was evidence that the adverse action would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of a retaliatory motive.

West Coast Employment Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you believe that you are a victim of workplace retaliation, you should seek legal assistance from a workplace retaliation lawyer. At West Coast Employment Lawyers, our legal team is available on a 24/7 basis to assess your case. We will determine whether your circumstance falls under workplace retaliation. If it does, we will proceed to handle your case. Our main priority is to ensure you are granted the compensation you are entitled to for any damages caused by your employer’s unlawful actions. 

To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to contact us by calling 213-927-3700, emailing [email protected], or completing our quick contact form located on the bottom of the page.

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