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Top 10 FAQs About Workplace Retaliation

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

Have you faced negative consequences at work after speaking up about a potential issue? You might be a victim of workplace retaliation, a serious violation of your employee rights in California. Workplace retaliation is a significant concern for many employees in the state. Protecting your career and well-being involves understanding your rights and knowing how to handle retaliation.

This blog post tackles employees’s 10 most common questions regarding workplace retaliation in California.

1. What Is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. Retaliation punishes employees for asserting their rights or reporting misconduct, creating a hostile work environment.

These adverse actions can include:

  • Termination,
  • Demotion,
  • Salary reduction,
  • Negative performance reviews, and
  • Other actions that can negatively impact your employment.

Under both federal and California state laws, such retaliation is illegal.

2. What Are Common Examples of Retaliation?

Common examples of workplace retaliation include:

  • Termination or layoff—firing an employee after reporting harassment or discrimination;
  • Demotion—demoting an employee who participated in a workplace investigation;
  • Pay reduction—decreasing an employee’s pay following a complaint about unsafe working conditions;
  • Reassignment—reassigning an employee to a less desirable position or location as punishment for engaging in protected activities;
  • Exclusion or increased scrutiny—being ostracized from projects or subjected to excessive monitoring after reporting misconduct; and
  • Hostile work environment—creating a work environment so intolerable that it forces an employee to resign after reporting misconduct.

Retaliation can take many forms. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been retaliated against, consulting with a Los Angeles retaliation attorney can help clarify the situation.

3. What Activities Are Protected from Retaliation?

Protected activities under California law include:

  • Filing complaints—reporting discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions;
  • Participating in investigations—cooperating with internal or external investigations into workplace misconduct;
  • Whistleblowing—reporting violations of labor laws or engaging in whistleblowing activities;
  • Requesting accommodations—seeking reasonable accommodations for disabilities or religious practices; and
  • Taking protected leave—utilizing family and medical leave or other legally protected leave.

Retaliation against employees who engage in these protected activities is illegal and can result in legal action against the employer.

4. How Do I Prove Retaliation in the Workplace?

To prove retaliation, you need to demonstrate:

  • Protected activity—evidence that you engaged in a legally protected activity, such as filing a complaint or requesting accommodation;
  • Adverse action—proof that your employer took an adverse action against you, such as firing or demotion; and
  • Causal connection—a link between the protected activity and the adverse action, indicating that the adverse action resulted from your engagement in the protected activity.

Documenting incidents, keeping records of communications, and gathering witness statements can significantly help build your case.

5. How Do I Report Retaliation at Work?

If you suspect retaliation, follow these steps:

  • Document everything—record all relevant incidents, including dates, times, locations, and involved parties;
  • Report internally—follow your company’s procedures for reporting retaliation, typically involving the HR department or a designated official; and
  • File external complaints—if internal reporting doesn’t resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with external agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Civil Rights Department (CRD)

Consider consulting with an employment lawyer to understand your rights and options.

6. Can I Be Fired for Reporting Workplace Misconduct?

No, firing an employee for reporting workplace misconduct is illegal. Both federal and California state laws protect employees from retaliation for reporting discrimination, harassment, safety violations, or other unlawful practices. You may have grounds for a retaliation claim if an employer terminates you for reporting misconduct.

7. What Protections Do Employees Have Against Retaliation?

Several laws protect employees in California, including:

These laws ensure that employees can report misconduct without fear of retribution.

8. How Long Do I Have to File a Retaliation Claim?

The time frame to file a retaliation claim varies:

  • EEOC claims—you generally have 300 days from the retaliatory act to file a claim with the EEOC;
  • DFEH claims—you typically have one year from the date of the retaliatory act to file a complaint with the DFEH; and
  • Labor code violations—for California Labor Code Section 1102.5 claims, you generally have three years to file a retaliation claim.

Don’t wait to assert your rights. Consulting with a Los Angeles retaliation attorney as soon as possible is vital to preserve your rights and ensure you meet all deadlines.

9. What Are the Damages for Workplace Retaliation?

Damages for a successful retaliation claim may include:

  • Lost wages and benefits—compensation for income and benefits lost due to retaliatory actions;
  • Emotional distress—damages for mental anguish and suffering caused by the retaliation;
  • Punitive damages—in cases of egregious conduct, courts may award punitive damages to punish the employer and deter future misconduct; and
  • Reinstatement—in some cases, reinstatement to your former position if feasible.

These damages aim to reimburse you for your financial losses, restore your position, and deter employers from engaging in retaliatory practices.

10. How Can an Attorney Help with My Retaliation Claim?

An experienced Los Angeles retaliation attorney or employment lawyer can assist in many ways:

  • Case evaluation—assessing your claim’s strength and providing guidance on the best action.
  • Evidence gathering—helping you collect and preserve evidence to support your claim;
  • Filing complaints—assisting with filing complaints with relevant agencies and ensuring you meet all deadlines;
  • Negotiating settlements—representing you in negotiations with your employer to seek a fair settlement; and
  • Litigation—representing you in court to pursue your claim and secure compensation for damages.

Even though handling a retaliation claim can be difficult, having experienced legal counsel can help you successfully defend your rights and seek justice.

Protect Your Rights with the Help of Lawyers for Justice

If you are a California workplace retaliation victim, contact Lawyers for Justice, experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers, for assistance. For over a decade, we’ve helped our clients secure the justice and compensation they deserve.

Don’t let retaliation go unchallenged. Contact us today for a confidential consultation to protect and safeguard your workplace rights.

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