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.


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.

Latest News & Updates

Meet Our San Diego Attorneys

Thomas F. Gallagher, Esq.


(858) 926-5797
tom [at] tomgallagherlaw.com

Troy B. Krich, Esq.


(858) 926-5797
troy [at] tomgallagherlaw.com

Contact Gallagher Krich, APC

What Clients Say:

Mike K., Google

August 11, 2023

Thank you so much for all your help in resolving a real estate matter so quickly and efficiently.

Mike K

What Clients Say:

Veronica D., Yelp

October 17, 2023

We had the pleasure of speaking with Troy for a contractor issue we had recently. He is smart, patient, empathetic and basically the lawyer we would want to be our side for (may God forbids) any legal assistance or battle we need! The interaction we had with him was “free of charge” but we already felt his dedication and concern (he took the time to reach out and follow up on how he can assist us further) which busy lawyers would normally ask their admin or assistant to do so on their behalf. We will be sure to contact again Troy, if need be! Thank you!!

Veronica D

What Clients Say:

Daniel E., Google

October 11, 2022

I left a voicemail for Tom late Sunday evening and received a phone call first thing the next morning.

Tom was very quick to reply to any questions I had, and if he was caught up in a meeting, he was sure to return my call promptly.

Tom provided sound and logical advice, during a very stressful and uncertain time. At times I asked him to be more aggressive and was often met with the pros and cons of that decision, allowing me to understand the approach and thought process behind his strategy.

Ultimately he provided options for several paths for us to take, worked swiftly, and got us where we needed to be.

He reached out several times to check on my sanity and make sure I was good.

As someone with very high expectations, I would highly recommend his services. He provided expertise that proved to be successful, and also took the time to make sure I was emotionally solid.

Tom assisted with me with a 50% / 50% ownership conflict.

Daniel E

What Clients Say:

Deanna, LawConnect.com

February 23, 2022

Really informative and actionable, very grateful to have connected and I look forward to working more with them in the future.


What Clients Say:

Marilyn, LawConnect.com

February 8, 2022

i liked that a lawyer, and not a staff member, called me to get the details and he gave me his opinion of what his initial thoughts are about my case.


What Clients Say:

Bob W., Google

August 30, 2021

What was thought to be a simple breach of contract turned into a nightmare. Through their tenacity and their deep knowledge of the law, we were successful. There is no reason to look any further as you will not get any better representation than this firm. I highly recommend them and strongly suggest that if you are considering starting a business or are already managing one, this firm will guide you, avoiding the troubled waters businesses sometimes find themselves in.

Bob W

What Clients Say:

Rasmita M., Google

August 13, 2021

Johnny Nitti helped us with our estate plan. He was very meticulous while drafting the plan and spent enough time to explain the details to us. He filed the deed with county recorder and paid for the fees himself. Overall, Johnny did a great job and we definitely plan to work with him in the future for any updates to our EP.

Rasmita M

What Clients Say:

George A., Google

August 6, 2021

Johnny Nitti helped me with my estate planning (will, living trust, etc.) and made the process smooth. He is very responsive and organized. I highly recommend contacting Johnny.

George A

What Clients Say:

Ashley C., Google

July 18, 2020

Tom Gallagher is very knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to business law. I reached out to him reguarding the Pandemic and my salon and I’m so glad I did. Many times stress and hard times can fog clarity and he really helped me understand the laws.

Thanks Tom!!!

Ashley C

What Clients Say:

Evan D., Google

July 16, 2019

Thank you Troy for everything! Professional, prompt, and smooth handling of my case. I will be recommending to anyone that is in need of a lawyer.

Evan D