Your Boss Can't Get Back at You: Why Retaliation is Illegal in California

Find A Labor Lawyer for Retaliation Claims


When an employee chooses to do the right thing by reporting harassment, discrimination, or public policy violations, it is illegal for their employer to punish the employee as a way to get back at them. If you've experienced retaliation from your boss, consult an Employment Attorney in California immediately.


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What Qualifies as Retaliation in California?

Retaliation is characterized as adverse actions meant to reprimand or punish an employee for engaging in protected activities. These protected activities could either be:

  1. Participation in legal procedures (i.e., becoming a witness for a lawsuit, or participating in the investigation process of an employment claim); or

  2. Assertion of your legal rights (i.e., refusing to lie to an auditor so the company gets away with illegal activity, filing a complaint regarding discrimination and workplace harassment)

Your employer cannot terminate/fire or discriminate against you if you engaged in the following protected practices:

  • Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or witnessing in a case.

  • Hiring a California Employment Law Attorney after experiencing discrimination or harassment.

  • Informing your manager about workplace discrimination or mistreatment.

  • Responding to questions during an employment claim investigation.

  • Refusing to accept orders that would lead to criminal behavior.

  • Turning down unwanted approaches or standing up for a coworker.

  • Asking for fair accommodations and considerations because of a disability.

  • You inquired about salary details from managers or peers to expose uneven pay.

It's important to note that participating in the complaint process is protected from workplace harassment and retribution in all circumstances. Other acts that denounce workplace discrimination are protected as long as the worker acted because he or she believed California labor laws were being violated.

On the other hand, participating in protected practices does not automatically protect employees from discipline or dismissal. Employers should discipline or even fire employees if the adverse action is motivated by non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory considerations.

How Do I Know I'm the Target of Retaliation?

Acts of retaliation can be overt or covert, so you have to pay attention to how your employer, HR, and coworkers act around you. If you already have a suspicion, you might already be noticing some signs.


Here are a few examples of an employer showing retaliatory behavior:

  • Reprimanding the employee or presenting an unfavorable or inaccurate judgment of his or her work performance.

  • Reassigning the employee to a less desirable position.

  • Verbal or physical assault report.

  • Threatening to report an employee to immigration officials or the police.

  • Constant critique of an employee without sufficient justification.

  • Spreading false information or gossip about the targeted employee.

  • Making the employee's job more difficult by altering his or her timetable and assigning him or her to tough-to-reach storefronts/locations.

  • Changing the employee's work responsibilities to something less appealing.

  • Reducing an employee's pay.

  • Ignoring reports of harassment from coworkers.

  • Demoting and suspending a target employee.

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I'm Experiencing Retaliation. What Do I Do?

Please be aware that you have legal protection and may be entitled to hefty compensation if you have been mistreated in the workplace as revenge. So how much is your threat of retaliation worth? Here are some steps you can take to protect your rights and build your case against your boss:

  • Maintain your composure. Remaining calm in such a situation will help. When you explode or inform your employer of such things, you may be handing your employer ammunition to justify their unfavorable or detrimental behavior toward you.

  • Keep a detailed record of everything. A paper trail is still valuable when seeking to pursue a job retaliation lawsuit. If you've written a warning about harmful or adverse consequences, file it away.

  • Save all emails, internal memos, instant messaging, texts, and other material that your California Labor Lawyer could use as evidence.

  • Be proactive. Make an effort to communicate clearly with whoever is perpetrating or condoning the retaliation. Negotiating proactively to address retaliation or miscommunication that may have given the sense of retaliation is a significant first step. Talk to your manager, supervisor, or human resource officer if your boss has one.

  • Internal procedures must be followed. Several businesses have stringent policies against discrimination, abuse, and intimidation in the workplace. Take a hard look at your company's manual.

  • The first step could be to file an internal complaint. This approach is usually documented in employee handbooks or provided by the human resources department. Workers typically have internal complaint systems in place to address situations of intolerance or abuse.

  • Social media should be avoided. While social networking can be a great way to communicate and remain in touch, it can also be risky if you face an Employment Lawsuit.

  • Because many social networking sites lack proper privacy safeguards, it is pretty easy for your employer's counsel to examine messages, images, or videos on your social media site and use them against you, even if they appear to be harmless.

  • So please keep in mind that everything you post online, including on social media, might be used against you in an employment law dispute.

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  • Make a formal complaint. If you have been physically or sexually harassed, you must submit a police report as soon as possible. Make a phone call to the nearest law enforcement agency right now.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has 50 field offices across the country, may potentially launch a lawsuit.

  • The EEOC web portal also allows you to start the prejudice fee process online. All of this is free to the public and can be a valuable resource for those who cannot afford private legal counsel.

  • Seek the advice of an Employment Attorney in California. It's a good idea to seek legal advice regardless of whether you file a discrimination case within the company or with the EEOC. Legal guidance from a California Labor Law Attorney will be beneficial when it comes to guiding you through a technical phase and furthering your awareness of California employment law.

Find A Workplace Retaliation Attorney in California


Gency.org can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Cases in California. No win, no fees! You can complete our submission form for a free case review.

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