Our office handles retaliation and whistleblower claims when employees uncover and report (or refuse to participate in) illegal corporate activity, or when employers take retaliatory actions against California whistleblower employees, including those protected under state and federal whistleblower laws. For example, California Government Code section 12940(h) prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who has complained about discrimination or harassment or who refuses to participate in conduct that they feel is discriminatory. Additionally, California Labor Code section 232.5 prevents an employer from retaliating against an employee for complaining about working conditions to a governmental agency or their employer. Finally, California Government Code section 12940[k] provides that an employer may be found liable if it did not take the reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace.
Despite the many statutory protections against retaliation under both California and federal law, a significant number of employers still believe they can fire or take some other adverse action against an employee who courageously reported illegal conduct to convey the message to other employees that reporting the company’s unlawful conduct or filing complaints against discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that an employer will advise a terminated or demoted employee that the adverse actions taken against them were because of their complaints about workplace discrimination or refusal to participate in such unlawful conduct. Accordingly, an experienced employment law attorney, such as the Perrin Law Group, must be prepared to leave no stone unturned to discover the circumstantial evidence for you to prevail in your retaliation or whistleblower claim. You and your attorney will need to look for subtle indicators of a retaliatory motive by your employer such as the timing of events, differential treatment of the employee who complained of perceived unlawful conduct as opposed to employees who did not make complaints, or whether the employer broke from its own policy in making the decision to terminate the employee.
For example, a close temporal proximity between the time of the employee’s complaint and the termination is strong circumstantial evidence of retaliation. In contrast, a significant gap in time between the employee’s complaint of unlawful conduct and the adverse action taken by the employer is not a strong indicator of retaliation. Similarly, an employer’s abrupt decision to terminate an employee for alleged misconduct before conducting an objective and thorough investigation can be circumstantial evidence of retaliation when its policy requires such an inquiry. Circumstantial evidence of retaliation may additionally be found when an employee who complains of discrimination suffers more significant consequences, such as a termination, when those employees who did not complain of unlawful conduct were not disciplined or only received a verbal or written warning. Due to the subtle nature of this type of conduct and the fact that the employer will likely attempt to justify or conceal its retaliatory motives, it is important for you to document unlawful conduct when it occurs and seek the advice of an attorney that has the experience and is not afraid to tirelessly take the steps necessary to prove your claim.
Contact the Perrin Law Group to stand up for your rights today.