Workplace Retaliation

Workplace Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes or treats an employee differently for engaging in a legally protected activity. Some employers think they can skirt safety rules, commit fraud, theft, or engage in other wrongdoing or illegalities in the workplace and get away with it. Adverse actions should never be taken against an employee for raising occupational safety or health concerns, or reporting the occurrence of wrongdoings in the workplace. Employers have a duty to ensure a safe work environment and the consequences of engaging in workplace retaliation can be substantial. For example, in Iwekaogwu v. City of California, 75 Cal. App. 4th 803, 821 (1999), the employee was awarded $450,000 in emotional damages.

If your employer, one of your co-workers, or superiors has been involved in misdeeds and you have reported them, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for speaking up. Prohibited retaliation by an employer includes: termination of your employment, discharge, threatened discharge, reduction in your pay or hours, demotion, denial of a promotion, suspension or refusing to renew an employment contract, among other things. If this has happened to you or you believe you were subjected to an adverse employment action because you confronted or reported wrongdoing in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation as a victim of workplace retaliation.

Retaliation lawyers in California are trained and qualified to handle these kinds of lawsuits. Hiring a California retaliation lawyer will allow you to approach your situation with confidence, ease, and knowledge.

The best California employment retaliation attorneys will help you better understand the intricacies of these types of lawsuits. They will advise you and advocate for your rights under the law. There are various labor code protections that prohibit employer retaliation for any of the following reasons:


The law protects whistleblowers, which includes any individual who provides information relating to a violation of the law. This includes individuals who make internal company complaints or complaints to outside governmental agencies. Whether it is a co-worker, your boss, or the company owner, you have a duty to report wrongdoings to the appropriate authorities and should be protected for doing so. Speaking out should not cost you your job or career. Thankfully, California has some of the best whistleblower protection laws in the country

In addition to protecting employees who speak out against illegalities in the workplace, California also offers protection to those who are retaliated against for engaging in protected activities. These include speaking out against or coming to the defense of those who are or have been discriminated against on the basis of one of the following protected categories:

  • Race

    Unfortunately, racism still exists in the workplace. The workplace often provides bigots a false sense of security, allowing them to believe they can make racist jokes, taunt, tease, and mistreat their co-workers and get away with it.

    If you are a victim of racism or believe that you have been mistreated at your workplace, it is your right and duty to report that misconduct to human resources or management without fear of retaliation or consequence. You cannot be fired or treated unfavorably for this. If you have been fired for speaking up against racist acts, wrongdoings, or because you came to the defense of another, you may have a valid workplace retaliation case.

  • Gender

    Sexual harassment and abuse have been in the news a great deal lately. The #Meoo movement has publicized what many women have been experiencing for ages. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in the workplace. Individuals just starting their careers need help, advice, and connections that experienced professionals can offer them. Often times, young professionals unknowingly get tricked after placing trust and confiding in their superiors and/or coworkers. It is illegal for someone to pressure you into sexual favors in exchange for their help, guidance, or career advancement. An employer cannot retaliate or punish you for defending yourself and or your coworkers.

    If you have stood up for yourself or a colleague being subjected to sexual or gender-based harassment or discrimination and were fired or punished as a result, you should contact an employment lawyer for immediate assistance. Similarly, if you have been a victim of unfair treatment, have experienced sexist comments, teasing, or jokes towards you and were retaliated against because you raised the issue with your boss, it is important to contact an attorney who has experience handling these types of matters.

  • Sexual Orientation

    It is illegal in California to retaliate against members of the LGBTQ community. An employer cannot punish you because of your sexual preference. It does not matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, transexual, transgender, queer, or questioning your sexual orientation; everyone has a right to a discrimination-free workplace. If you have been dismissed from your job, or believe that you have been treated unfairly, or are being made fun of for exercising your affiliation with the LGBTQ community, your legal rights are being violated.

  • Religion

    You cannot be retaliated against, harassed, dismissed, or treated differently simply because you maintain different religious preferences or beliefs than others. Your employer cannot demand that you practice a religion different than your own.

    The FEHA prohibits discrimination and retaliation based on religion and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employees’ religious beliefs, as well as religious observances and practices. Religious discrimination and retaliation comes in many forms. Some examples include: refusing to allow observers of the Jewish faith to observe the high holidays, refusing to allow a Muslim woman to wear a hijab at work, refusing to allow a Muslim to engage in prayer activities, and so on.

    If you are a member of a religious group, and you have been retaliated against, punished, isolated, refused a promotion, or otherwise mistreated because you did not comply with your employer’s religious demands or for expressing your own religious beliefs, then your legal rights are being violated. Non-believers and atheists are also entitled to the same religious protections.

  • Age

    California law prohibits the practice of ageism in the workplace. It is often the case that an employer will attempt to replace older workers with more youthful ones. Some employers act under the false assumption that the older employees work too slowly or are unable to understand the changing work environment. They may believe that the older an employee gets, the lazier they become. These assumptions are both wrong and illegal. If you are being retaliated or ridiculed for being a certain age, or for speaking up against it, you should an employment lawyer to fight for and preserve your rights.

Although Workplace Retaliation cases are not often clear-cut, there are steps you can take to help your attorneys preserve your rights and bolster your case. These include:

  • Relevant Communication

    Employers are not likely to be open about their wrongdoings. In retaliation cases, documented evidence of reporting can be essential to your case. For this reason, it is important to preserve all emails, letters, voice messages, and text messages to and from your employer. Not only will preserving these documents evidence your reporting and your employer’s response but it will help establish a timeline of exactly what transpired. This will be extremely beneficial to your case.

  • Discovery Documents

    Typically, your complete employment and pay records will be obtained at the initiation of every case. This is a critical, yet often overlooked step, that allows us to preserve evidence quickly. Obtaining this information allows our lawyers to review all of the documents related to the case, including the examination of internal communications between the company, your immediate superior, and others. Other documents such as counseling forms/reports, reprimands, and emails between the person who has abused you and others are also collected. Therefore, it is important that you request that your employer documents everything and a copy of those documents are placed in your employment file.

  • Proof of Financial Damage

    Being the target of workplace retaliation is frightening, unjust, and economically devastating. The main goal of the lawsuit is to demonstrate that you were treated unlawfully or unfairly and to compensate you for your harms. If it is determined that you were the subject of unlawful retaliation, you could recover for your lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages amongst others. Therefore, it is essential that you document any and every financial hardships resulting from your employer’s unlawful retaliation or discrimination.

Contact West Coast Employment Lawyers to Get Started On Your Case

Whistleblower retaliation lawyers can help you preserve your rights and protect you from your employer. If you believe you have been passed over for promotion, fired, or otherwise mistreated for doing the right thing, you should contact the skilled workplace retaliation attorneys at WWest Coast Employment Lawyers immediately.

Fear of attorney costs should not prevent you from seeking justice, speaking out, or preserving your rights. Our California retaliation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay anything until the case is settled and won. Call us at any time at 1-800-247-9235 for a free consultation and to discuss how we can help you.

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