Ways To Handle Retaliation Claims In California
It is illegal for an employer to punish or get back at an employee for doing the right thing. If an employee reports harassment, discrimination, or public policy infractions that their employer has committed, the employer has no right to demote, fire, or enact any employment decision that can be interpreted as retaliation. Consult an Employment Attorney in California right away if you've been the victim of retaliation from your boss.
What Is Retaliation In Employment Law?
Retaliation is defined as employment decisions taken to punish or criticize an employee for engaging in protected activity. These activities could be one of the following:
Participation in legal proceedings (for example, being a witness in a lawsuit or helping to investigate an employment claim)
Exercise of the employee's legal rights (i.e., refusing to lie so the company gets away with illegal activity, filing complaints for discrimination and workplace harassment)
In this case, even if you were one of the witnesses who testified against your boss or coworker in a Labor Law Claim, your employer still cannot fire or demote you. Likewise, even if you were the one who reported your employer to OSHA or FEHA, they still could not punish you for doing so.
What Are Your Employee Protections?
To paint a clearer picture of what your rights are, here are a few examples of protected practices your employer cannot fire you or discriminate against you for:
Testifying in an employment claim against your employer
Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Helping investigators while your company is served an employment claim
Hiring a California Employment Law Attorney
Refusing to comply with demands that would lead to illegal activity
Rejecting unwelcome approaches from your boss or coworkers
Advocating for a coworker's rights
Requesting reasonable accommodations and considerations for your disability
Filing an FMLA leave
Not coming to work to serve as a member of the jury
Asking for your employment records
Reporting harassment to HR
It's vital to highlight that anyone who participates in the complaint process is protected from all forms of workplace harassment and retaliation.
In addition, other acts that oppose workplace discrimination are legal as long as the worker did so because they believed California labor laws were being broken. So if you reported your employer fully believing wrongdoing is taking place, you still can't be punished by your employer even if you turned out to be wrong.
What Are The Signs Of Retaliation?
You must pay attention to how your employer, HR, and coworkers act around you since retaliation can be both overt or covert. You may already be observing some signs if you have a suspicion, so keep those in mind as you're trying to figure out what's happening at work.
Here are a few examples of retaliatory behavior:
Reprimanding the employee for no reason
Making a negative or erroneous assessment of an employee's performance at work
The employee is reassigned to a less desired position (i.e., demoted, more work, assigned to a more inconvenient site location, etc.)
Verbal or physical assault
Threatening to report a coworker to immigration authorities or the cops
Constantly criticizing an employee without any explanation
Disseminating false or malicious information about the targeted employee
Increasing the difficulty of the employee's task by modifying their schedule and assigning them to difficult-to-reach storefronts/locations
Paying an employee less
Ignoring harassment complaints from coworkers
Do remember that the ones listed above are just a few examples. Retaliation can absolutely take many forms, but to make it easier for you to tell if you're being discriminated against, just think along these lines:
You exercised your right as an employee
Your boss made employment decisions to get back at you for it
If it's still unclear, you can contact an experienced California Employment Law Attorney to help you look over your case and forward a possible employment claim. You can do a quick California State Bar Attorney Search or get a contingency lawyer for a 'no win, no fees' payment policy.
What Kinds of Evidence Does Retaliation Claim in California Require?
In most cases, retaliation is tied to employment decisions and work culture. To help speed up your potential retaliation claim, any interactions that imply retaliation should be documented.
Here are some things to think about gathering:
Photo and Video Evidence of Retaliation. Keep track of any slurs, bad behavior, or unpleasant treatment you've received. Retaliatory actions can be subtle, but getting them on camera might help your lawyer form the arguments needed to prove your case. (However, you should remember to be cautious when photographing or filming other individuals, as it may exacerbate disputes or tensions, putting you in danger.)
Text Messages, Chats, and Emails. Keep track of any emails, chats, or texts that imply harassment, discrimination, and retaliatory behavior. Take screenshots of the chat rooms and save all of your emails in one place for convenient access.
Pay Stubs, Written Notices, and Other Employment Documents. These papers can show that your employer cut your pay, demoted you, or threatened you with penalty or retaliation without cause. In any case, these can create a hostile work atmosphere, making it difficult for you to do your duties.
Medical Records. If you're getting overworked or suffering from egregious amounts of distress from retaliatory behavior, you might show signs of diminishing health. You can demand non-economic damages in California, so don't hesitate to include those as proof of the consequences of the retaliation.
Your California Labor Lawyer may do their own investigation, so be sure to provide them with all the relevant data about your allegations to expedite the process.