Understanding Retaliation Lawsuits in California: A Guide for Workers

In the evolving world of employment law in California, retaliation lawsuits allow an employee to seek justice against unfair treatment by employers.

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. This blog post will explore what constitutes retaliation, examples of adverse employment events, and the procedures employees must follow to pursue a lawsuit in California.

What is Retaliation?

Retaliation in the workplace happens when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in activities protected under state or federal law. These activities might include:

  • Filing a complaint about workplace safety
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Participating in an investigation
  • Any other forms of whistleblowing

 Examples of Adverse Employment Events

An adverse employment event refers to any action that negatively affects the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This can include:

  • Termination or firing
  • Demotion or reduction in pay 
  • Reduction in hours or denial of overtime
  • Unjustified negative evaluations or increased surveillance
  • Denial of benefits or promotions
  • Hostile work environment creation

Legal Protections Against Retaliation

California workers are protected against retaliation under various state and federal laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the California Labor Code, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). These laws ensure that employees can exercise their rights without fear of punishment.

Steps to Follow When Facing Retaliation

  1. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all incidents involving potential retaliation, including emails, memos, and any communications related to your protected activities and the adverse actions taken by your employer.
  2. Report the Retaliation: Initially, you might consider addressing the issue internally through your company’s HR department. This is often the first step in the formal process of resolving employment disputes.
  3. File a Complaint: If internal resolution doesn’t remedy the situation, the next step is to file a formal complaint. In California, employees can file a retaliation complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), depending on the nature of the retaliation.
  4. Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with an attorney specializing in employment law can provide crucial guidance and help you understand your rights and the strengths of your case. An attorney can also represent you in all legal proceedings, including negotiations and court appearances.
  5. Timing is Critical: Be aware of the deadlines for filing complaints. For instance, complaints with the DFEH must generally be filed within three years of the discriminatory act.

Conclusion

Retaliation lawsuits serve as a vital mechanism for protecting California workers from unfair and unjust treatment in the workplace.

Understanding your rights and the appropriate steps to take when subjected to retaliation can empower you to stand up against wrongful employment practices. Always consider seeking professional legal advice to navigate these complex situations effectively.

For anyone facing such issues, it’s important to act promptly and informedly to ensure your rights are fully protected.  Always keep abreast of the latest legal requirements and consider consulting with the lawyers at Gallagher Krich APC, experienced California business lawyers to address any company-specific concerns.

For more information, contact Gallagher Krich, APC at Telephone: (858) 926-5797 or by email at: info [at]  tomgallagherlaw.com.

Attorney-Advertising. Tom Gallagher, is the attorney responsible for this advertising.

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