There is a multitude of federal and state laws that protect employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, many employees in Los Angeles don’t know that these laws also protect them from employer retaliation.
Basically, this means employers don’t have the right to penalize or punish workers for filing complaints regarding harassment or discrimination, participating in workplace investigations, or requesting accommodations. In this regard, ‘’punishment’’ entails an array of employment actions like being denied a raise, facing a pay cut, being passed up for promotion, etc.
If you think your employer is retaliating against you, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer. A seasoned lawyer from The Fraigun Law Group will help fight for your rights and make sure your best interests are protected. Employer retaliation is illegal in the state of California and it’s not tolerated.
What Is Employer Retaliation?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation or ‘’adverse reaction’’ is when an employer penalizes or punishes a worker for engaging in a legally protected activity. Protected activities include:
- Complaining about discrimination or harassment in the workplace
- Refusing to engage in or reporting illegal conduct
- Filing a lawsuit following the violation of your civil rights
- Helping a coworker file a lawsuit for violation of their rights at the workplace
- Reporting fraud on a government contract
- Filing a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner
- Filing a complaint with the EEOC
- Filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH)
What Are the Common Forms of Employer Retaliation?
The common forms of employer retaliation in Los Angeles include:
- Wrongful termination
- Negative performance reviews
- Denial of raises, promotions, benefits, and compensation
- Denial of training opportunities
- Unfair disciplinary action
- Exclusion from projects, meetings, and other functions in the workplace
- Reduction in pay
- Unfairly increased workload and unequal expectations for you in comparison to your workmates
Federal Anti-Retaliation Laws
There are several anti-retaliation laws that help protect workers from employer retaliation that every employee should know about:
- The Equal Pay Act prohibits retaliation against workers for complaining about or helping with a wage discrimination case.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits retaliation against workers who complain about overtime and minimum wages.
- The Americans With Disabilities Act forbids retaliation against workers who make accommodations requests or help another employee in the same.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits retaliation against employees who file discrimination complaints in the workplace.
- The Family & Medical Leave Act forbids retaliation against employees who ask for leaves for medical reasons.
Workers who file complaints based on the above-mentioned issues are not the only parties protected by anti-retaliation laws. The law ideally protects anyone who participates in a complaint investigation, even if the claim turns out to be false.
Retaliation can also happen to an individual who is yet to be hired. An example is when a qualified candidate is turned down because they refused to engage in sexual activities during the interview or hiring process.
How to Prove Employer Retaliation
Under federal and state laws, an employer is prohibited from punishing employers for asserting their rights. Unfortunately, retaliation is still a thing in the United States, particularly in cases involving harassment and discrimination. According to the EEOC, over a third of the discrimination cases in the past several years include an employer retaliation claim.
When you make a workplace retaliation claim, you are expected to prove the following elements:
You Engaged in a Protected Activity
State and federal laws forbid employers and managers from discriminating against their workers and also prohibit retaliation against those who engage in protected activities under those laws. As such, when a worker opposes any activity that’s deemed illegal like harassment or discrimination, they are engaged in protected activity.
Your Employer Took Negative or Adverse Action
Any form of adverse or negative action that an employer does against an employee may be considered retaliation and the law, especially if the act hampers the worker from engaging in protected activity or filing a complaint.
Examples of adverse or negative actions include pay cuts, wrongful termination, demotion, negative performance evaluations, change in duties or assignments, transfer, or changes in employment terms and conditions (usually for the worst).
Engaging in Protected Activity Resulted in Employer Retaliation
More often than not, showing you engaged in protected activity and were subjected to negative to adverse action is not usually enough to prove workplace retaliation. You are also required to show that the two events are related.
Simply put, you must prove that your engagement in a protected activity was the direct cause of retaliation. For example, if you complained about sexual harassment and find yourself fired, not because of cost-cutting measures or layoffs, but an isolated incident, you may have a strong case as you may be able to show causation.
Unfortunately, proving causation tends to be tricky unless the employer makes a verbal or written threat, or openly admits retaliation. Typically, you need to present evidence like the timing of the adverse action. That’s why it is advisable to have a reputable Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer by your side.
What Should You Do Following an Employer Retaliation?
If you have been a victim of workplace retaliation, know that you have legal rights and may be eligible for compensation. Here are some of the steps you can take to both protect your rights and build a solid case against your employer:
Dealing with retaliation can be frustrating and challenging, especially if you have been discriminated against or harassed at the workplace. However, remaining calm is advisable as raging and saying certain things will only weaken your claim.
Save all instant messages, emails, internal memos, the written notice of adverse action, and any other communications as they will serve as evidence for your case.
Follow Internal Procedures
Many organizations have comprehensive procedures and policies that discourage workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. So, ensure you take a closer look at your company’s policy. The first step is usually filing an internal complaint.
The process is usually set forth in employee handbooks or communicated by HR. Most organizations also have systems in place that handle harassment and discrimination cases internally.
Consider speaking directly to the party committing or condoning retaliation. Proactive communication to resolve the case informally or clear any miscommunications will save everyone the headache.
Contact the Authorities
If you have been assaulted, physically or sexually, file a complaint with the police as soon as possible. You can also file a complaint with US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and initiate the discrimination charge process as well. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office deals with violations of state retaliation laws.
Hire a Los Angeles Employer Retaliation Lawyer Today!
At The Fraigun Law Group, we understand that making a complaint about discrimination or harassment in the workplace can be a scary endeavor, especially when doing it on your own. While employers and organizations are prohibited from retaliating against employees for engaging in protected activity, it happens all too often, with many even facing wrongful termination.
If you have suffered negative or adverse action as a result, it is important to protect your rights as soon as possible. Call us today at 818-981-1800 for the best representation in Los Angeles!