There are many reasons in which you may be retaliated against in the workplace by an employer. However, you should know that no matter what the reason, it is always against the law. Take for example, you have become injured and are filing a workers’ compensation claim – if your boss decides to demote you or discipline you for this action, then they are breaking the laws of the workplace. Laws are set in place to protect employees from discrimination and harassment in any situation! Know your rights and stay safe.
Retaliation takes place when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in activity that is legally protected. Retaliation usually ends in demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment. However, it can also be subtler than that. When the action is not so obvious, you must consider the circumstances surrounding the situation. Federal law actually protects employees from retaliation. Laws protect those who were witnesses to it and also those who are whistleblowers for telling about unsafe working conditions.
How do you know that you are being retaliated against?
Sometimes it may not be easy to detect retaliation. Sometimes you may make a complaint due to how an employer acts toward you and treats you differently, and their attitude and demeanor may change to something adverse right before your eyes. Maybe they are not only less friendly toward you, but they are also spiteful and take away from your overall work. What if you make a complaint and you are fired immediately after even though you worked for that company for fifteen years? It will be obvious that you are being retaliated against. So, if you suspect that retaliation is happening, you should talk to your supervisor or a human resources representative. If there is no legitimate reason for a firing, demotion, or other negative act, then you should voice your concern. However, be prepared for your employer to deny it (Guerin).
State-Specific to California
Have you fallen victim to retaliation, as an employee, in California? When you suspect retaliation, you should always file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). However, you should always remember that you must stay within the time constraints of being able to file a complaint. The complaint usually needs to be filed within six months of the retaliatory act in California.
When the complaint is filed, you will be contacted by a Discrimination Complaint Investigator from the Labor Commissioner’s office to begin the process. The employee, employer, and any witnesses may be interviewed to give responses to what actually occurred. A written report will be taken to note and forwarded to the labor commissioner by the investigator. After this, the labor commissioner will review the report and make a decision on the situation and what should be done about it.
If more information is needed, a hearing will be held in which the parties can come and bring witnesses along so that they can help support facts that have happened. At any point, the employee will retain the right to file a separate private court hearing against the employer – however, one should always keep in mind the statute of limitations. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is always willing to listen to claims of workplace discrimination and retaliation (SoC).
Where should you turn if an employer is being retaliatory against you? You can contact the RAWA Law Group for all of your needs. Retaliation is something that you should always be prepared for and taking notice of the warning signs. Call today!
Lisa Guerin. Nolo, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 26, 2015. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workplace-retaliation-employee-rights-30217.html
SoC. State of California: Department of Industrial Relations, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 26, 2015