California Workers’ Rights on Retaliation in the Workplace

California Workers’ Rights on Retaliation in the Workplace

As a worker in California, you have the right to be protected from retaliation by an employer. That means your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for filing a complaint about sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, or any other issues you experience in the workplace. Additionally, your employer cannot retaliate against you for helping investigators or participating in an investigation. But what are the laws that help protect you against retaliation in the workplace? This guide explains the laws, as well as what you can do if your employer retaliates against you.

Laws That Protect California Workers’ Rights on Retaliation in the Workplace

Several sections of California Labor Code prohibit retaliation against employees. You can learn about them here. Additionally, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Whistleblower Protection Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act (on a federal level), and even the Occupational Safety and Health Act are all there to protect people from retaliation in the workplace. 

Related: What is the Whistleblower Protection Act?

What’s Considered Retaliation in California?

If your employer takes an adverse employment action against you, or if it discriminates against you because you engaged in a protected activity (such as filing a complaint or supporting an investigation), you may be the victim of retaliation in the workplace.

To be clear, if your employer fires you because you engaged in a protected activity, you may be able to prove that you were wrongfully terminated. There are legal remedies available to people who have been wrongfully terminated, including restoration of their jobs, benefits, back pay and more.

However, some employers retaliate without firing workers, which we explain in the following section. 

Related: 7 common employment law issues in California 

Signs of Retaliation in the Workplace

Although firing is the most obvious sign of retaliation in the workplace, that’s not the only way that employers “get back at” employees. Check out these signs of retaliation in the workplace to see if any of them apply to you:

  • You start getting negative performance reviews, even when your performance is fine and hasn’t gone downhill
  • Your boss gives you more and more work, and it’s just piling up
  • You’re assigned to shifts that are less desirable than the ones you had
  • Your supervisors exclude you from meetings and correspondence that everyone else gets
  • Your supervisors try to make it hard for you to perform well
  • You’re passed over for promotion that you deserved relative to your coworkers
  • You don’t get a raise that’s due to you
  • You’re subject to disciplinary action for something you didn’t do or that isn’t your fault
  • Your employer doesn’t give you access to resources or training that would help you further your career

Can I Sue My Employer for Retaliation in California?

There are some cases in which it’s appropriate, and in which it’s necessary, to sue an employer for retaliation in the state of California. However, the way you file a lawsuit depends on the type of retaliation you have experienced. If you are considering suing an employer for retaliation, it’s in your best interest to speak with a workplace rights attorney in Los Angeles or Glendale first.

Related: Discrimination in California workplaces

Filing a Complaint

In many cases, you cannot sue your employer until you have filed an official complaint. Your attorney can let you know what steps you need to take to sue an employer for retaliation in the state of California.

Could You Be Eligible for Damages After Retaliation?

Many people who sue employers for retaliation in California are entitled to damages. Although there is no way to predict how a judge will rule, common damages awarded in these types of cases include:

  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Damages for harm done to your professional reputation
  • Damages for adverse employment actions (such as being denied a promotion or missing out on career-furthering opportunities)
  • Lost wages

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About California Workers’ Rights About Retaliation in the Workplace?

If you believe your employer has retaliated against you, you may have a legal case. Call our office right now at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.

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