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Workplace Retaliation In California

What is workplace retaliation?

Under California labor laws, workplace retaliation refers to the actions an employer takes that punish and damage the career of their employees because they reported, complained, or took part in an investigation that supported illegal activity within the company and/or neglected employee rights.

When there is a suspected violation by an employee and they believe they may have a retaliation claim, they could be observing different types of illegal conduct. Those types of illegal conduct can include:

  • Any sort of harassment in the workplace or if the employer permits a hostile work environment
  • Any workplace violations that go against the California labor code, such as wage and hour violations (unpaid wages) and unpaid overtime
  • Workplace discrimination based upon age, national origin, sexual identity, gender, or something else
  • Any suspected criminal activity, like embezzlement and/or money laundering
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace
  • If workplace accommodations are unsafe and the employer does nothing to change them

If an employee should gather evidence and report violations to a manager, and then receives a punishing consequence, they may have suffered retaliation. Types of punishing consequences, or examples of workplace retaliation, can include:

  • Denying an employee a bonus or other financial benefit
  • Declining an employee promotion
  • Demoting an employee
  • Reducing an employee’s wages or salary
  • Moving an employee to a less desirable location in the workplace or giving them a less desirable shift
  • Rejecting an employee’s request for a transfer to a new position
  • Rejecting a candidate for a position
  • Creating a hostile work environment in order to force the employee to quit (read more on constructive discharge)
  • Giving an employee an unfavorable job reference
  • Giving an employee a poor performance review that is not objectively congruent to their job performance
  • Firing an employee

Bullying and retaliation in the workplace can be viewed as one in the same.


How To Prove Retaliation In The Workplace In California

In order for an employee to prove that their employer exercised employer retaliation after they filed a report of unlawful activity, they must gather evidence of the employer’s illegal conduct and calculate the damages they experienced as a result.

The best thing to do if an employee believes they experienced retaliation in the workplace is to contact a California employment law attorney. An employment lawyer can help their client against whistleblower retaliation, discuss the federal statute on workplace retaliation laws, and give them guidance on the evidentiary support needed to prove retaliation in the workplace. The more evidence a California employment law attorney can help their client uncover, the better chance they have to prove workplace retaliation took place.


Can I Sue For Workplace Retaliation – FAQ

can i sue for workplace retaliation? California workplace retaliation law is strict, but fair employment laws do not support adverse action be taken against employees who are speaking out about unfavorable working conditions. The law supports employee rights. California workers can sue for workplace retaliation cases if any adverse employment action was taken unto them for trying to do the right thing.

how to handle  retaliation in the workplace? If an employer believes one of their employees has a substantial motivating reason for trying to address workplace wrongdoing any punishes them for it, the employee should try and remain as calm as possible. Though fear is common when it comes to losing one’s job, it’s important to remember that if the employee is calling out unlawful practices with the intention to bring justice to the workplace, they can be rewarded with financial compensation. Even if their employer fires or takes adverse employment action against them, they can still file a workplace retaliation claim.

The employee should start to collect evidence as to the workplace retaliation that occurred and bring that evidence to an employment law attorney.

The best way to handle a workplace retaliation issue is to hire an employment attorney who can help navigate California workplace retaliation laws. A workplace retaliation lawyer can guide clients on state or federal statute laws that may come into play, or any labor code or government code laws to abide by.

is retaliation illegal in the workplace? Workplace retaliation is illegal and violates the California labor code. No adverse action against an employee is lawful when they are making an attempt to call out wrongdoing.