Under California law, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Labor Code, and the Family Rights Act, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who engage in “protected activities.” That means an employer is prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee because the employee engaged in activities protected under the law. Protected activities essentially refer to activities that workers may engage in without fear of retaliation by supervisors or employers. Protected activities may include but are not limited to:
- Refusing to violate the law or report a violation of law
- Opposing unlawful discrimination or harassment
- Reporting an unsafe working environment
- Complaining about wages or hours
- Requesting a leave of absence or reasonable accommodation
- Using accrued sick leave
- Reporting unlawful company activity to a government agency
Although adverse actions typically involve termination or suspension of employment, they may also include receiving negative performance reviews, being assigned to less desirable shifts, having your pay reduced, being denied a promotional opportunity or having your workload increased.
Generally, an employee can establish a retaliation claim by proving (1) she has engaged in a “protected activity” – i.e. complaining about unlawful discrimination, unlawful harassment, safety violations, or exercising a number of other protected rights under the law, (2) she suffered an adverse employment action, such as demotion or termination, and (3) the motivating reason for the adverse action is because of the protected activity, and not for some other personal, non- retaliatory reason.
If successful, retaliation victims can recover the following types of damages:
- Lost wages, bonuses, commissions, and benefits.
- Damages to compensate you for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the unlawful conduct.
- Punitive damages if the company acted with malice oppression or fraud.
If you believe that your company has retaliated against you for asserting or using your rights as an employee, contact the attorneys at Bokhour Law Group, P.C. for a free evaluation of your case.