What is Retaliation?
Retaliation is any adverse employment action taken against an employee who complained of discrimination, harassment, or a violation of workplace law. It is also retaliation to take adverse action against an employee who participates in an investigation of one of these problems. Adverse action can be taken by the employer, managers, or fellow employees.
What Constitutes Adverse Employment Action?
Retaliation does not always result in termination. Some of the more common examples of things that qualify as adverse employment action include:
- Negative evaluations
- Decrease in pay
- Change in job or shift assignment
- Job location transfer
- Hostile behavior or attitude
- Decrease in benefits
Further, retaliation is illegal when it is a reaction to:
- Discrimination complaints
- Sexual harassment complaints
- Wage and hour claims
- Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) use
- Whistleblower actions
How Do You Know if Your Employer is Retaliating Against You?
Sometimes, it's hard to tell whether your employer is retaliating against you. For example, if you complain about your supervisor's harassing conduct, his attitude and demeanor may change. But if the change means he acts more professionally towards you, that isn't retaliation even if he isn't as friendly as he once was. Only changes that have an adverse effect on your employment are retaliatory.
What should you do if you've suffered from retaliation?
You have a responsibility to inform your employer of the retaliatory treatment (this usually does not apply if the retaliatory treatment is a termination) whenever possible. Doing so is important because the law requires that your employer investigate all claims of retaliation and take immediate and appropriate action to remedy the situation.
What if the retaliation continues?
Before a lawsuit can be filed against an employer for harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, an employee must file a complaint with either the federal or state authority charged with investigating such complaints. Although the intended result of such a complaint is to give the employer time to remedy its conduct prior to being sued, in many cases, it is simply a formality that must be taken care of prior to a lawsuit.
You should contact either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which is the state agency that investigates retaliation complaints related to discrimination or harassment, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal equivalent of the DFEH that investigates retaliation related violations of federal civil rights law (Title VII) in employment. There are other agencies, such as the California Office of the Labor Commissioner, that investigate retaliation complaints related to whistle-blowing.
Can an experienced lawyer help?
If you believe you have taken all the necessary steps and are still unsatisfied with the result, you may need to seek legal counsel about the feasibility of filing a lawsuit. Both Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act give employees a right to sue an employer for violations of their rights and permit recovery of past lost wages and benefits, future wage loss, emotional distress damages, attorney fees and possibly punitive damages, if a violation has been found. No matter what situation you have found yourself in, you can be confident in our ability to get you the compensation you need.
There are a variety of ways that the qualified California lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can assist you. Take the first step to protecting yourself and stopping this hurtful and illegal behavior. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us regarding your case.