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California Workplace Retaliation Laws to Know in 2024

Attorney advertisement by Edwin Aiwazian of Lawyers for Justice, PC, headquartered at 410 Arden Avenue, Glendale, CA 91203

Experiencing retaliation in the workplace can be distressing and overwhelming. Understanding California workplace retaliation laws is essential if you believe you’ve been targeted for standing up for your rights. These laws protect employees from unfair treatment and ensure a safe, supportive work environment. In this blog, we’ll discuss California’s key statutes and laws that may apply to workplace retaliation cases.

Understanding Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. These activities might include reporting discrimination or harassment, participating in an investigation, or exercising rights under labor laws.

Retaliation can manifest in various ways, such as demotion, termination, salary reduction, or creating a hostile work environment. Recognizing the signs of retaliation is crucial in protecting your rights.

Key California Workplace Retaliation Laws

California has robust protections for employees against retaliation. Here are the primary statutes you should know:

1. California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

The FEHA is one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the state. It protects employees from retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices, filing a complaint, or participating in an investigation or lawsuit related to discrimination.

FEHA prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, age, and genetic information. Employers cannot retaliate against employees who report such discrimination or cooperate in related investigations or legal proceedings.

2. California Labor Code § 1102.5

This section of the California Labor Code specifically addresses whistleblower protections. It prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report state or federal law violations, noncompliance with regulations, or unsafe working conditions.

This includes reporting activities believed to be illegal, regardless of whether the activity was ultimately found to be unlawful. Employees are also protected when they refuse to participate in activities that would result in a violation of the law. This law ensures that employees can act as whistleblowers without fear of losing their jobs or facing other forms of retaliation.

3. California Labor Code § 98.6

This statute protects employees from retaliation for exercising their rights under the Labor Code, such as filing a wage claim or reporting labor law violations. It also provides remedies for employees who have been retaliated against, including reinstatement and compensation for lost wages.

This statute also covers various employee rights, including the right to receive minimum wage, overtime pay, and proper meal and rest breaks. Employers retaliating against employees for asserting these rights can be held accountable under California retaliation laws.

4. California Government Code § 12940(h)

This statute makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who oppose practices forbidden under the FEHA or participate in related proceedings. It ensures that employees can assert their rights without fear of retaliation.

Employees are protected when they complain about discriminatory practices, file a charge of discrimination, or testify or assist in any proceedings under the FEHA. This statute also applies to employees associated with someone who has engaged in protected activity, extending the protection to those who support or assist others in asserting their rights.

Recognizing Retaliation

Retaliation can take many forms, including:

  • Termination or demotion—being fired or demoted after reporting a complaint;
  • Reduction in pay or hours—facing a sudden reduction in salary or working hours without a valid reason;
  • Unfavorable changes in job assignments—being reassigned to less desirable tasks or shifts as a form of punishment;
  • Harassment or hostile work environment—experiencing increased scrutiny, bullying, or a toxic work atmosphere; and
  • Negative performance reviews—receiving unjustified poor performance evaluations that could affect your career progression.

If you’ve experienced these actions after engaging in protected activities, you might have a valid claim under California workplace retaliation laws.

Proving Retaliation

To prove a case of workplace retaliation under California workplace retaliation laws, you need to establish three key elements.

First, demonstrate that you engaged in a legally protected activity, such as filing a complaint or participating in an investigation. Second, provide evidence that your employer took an adverse action against you, like termination, demotion, or pay reduction. Finally, show a causal link between your protected activity and the adverse action, often evidenced by timing or direct statements from your employer.

Keeping detailed records of your complaints, communications with your employer, and specifics of the adverse actions can help substantiate your claim. By thoroughly documenting your experiences and seeking legal advice, you can effectively navigate the complexities of California workplace retaliation laws.

What to Do If You Experience Retaliation

If you believe you’ve experienced retaliation, take the following steps.

Document Everything

Keep detailed records of the incidents and any communications related to your complaint. These records include dates, times, locations, and the names of individuals involved.

Report the Retaliation

Notify your HR department or use any internal reporting mechanisms. Ensure that you follow your company’s procedures for reporting retaliation.

Seek Legal Advice

Contact an experienced employment attorney to understand your rights and the best course of action. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of California retaliation laws and advise you on the best steps to take.

Contact Lawyers for Justice, P.C.

Navigating California workplace retaliation laws can be complex. If you believe you’ve experienced retaliation, having knowledgeable legal representation is crucial. At Lawyers for Justice, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and fighting against workplace injustice. Our compassionate and experienced team is here to help you understand your legal options and pursue the justice you deserve.

For more information on California retaliation laws or to discuss your case, contact Lawyers for Justice, P.C. today. Your rights matter, and we are here to help uphold them.

By understanding and utilizing the protections offered by California workplace retaliation laws, you can take the first step towards a fair and just resolution to your situation. Let Lawyers for Justice, P.C. be your advocate in this challenging time.

Attorney advertisement by Edwin Aiwazian of Lawyers For Justice, PC, headquartered at 410 Arden Avenue, Glendale, CA 91203