Workplace retaliation is often difficult for an employee to detect. In a nutshell, retaliation involves your employer taking some form of negative action against an employee because they engaged in some form of protected activity that include, but are not limited to, protesting perceived discrimination, unsafe work conditions or discussing their wages with other employees. The remainder of this article sets forth common examples of protected activities which form the basis of a retaliation claim.
– Filing an EEOC or DFEH claim against their employer. A common type of protected activity involves when the employee has filed a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and/or the EEOC. These organizations protect employees from discrimination according to federal and state law, respectively — and their effectiveness is dependent on an employee’s ability to report violations freely and without fear of retribution. To this end, employees who file a FEHA claim may not be retaliated against by their employer for making such a claim. Similarly, an employer may not retaliate against an employee because they testified as a witness on behalf of another employee who pursued a FEHA claim. (California Government Code §12940[h])
– Speaking with a supervisor or manager about perceived harassment or discrimination. It is important to remember that your employer has the responsibility to maintain a fair and inclusive workplace, so if he or she allows employees of the organization to bully, harass, or discriminate, they could be found liable themselves for facilitating or failing to take the reasonable steps necessary to prevent such unlawful conduct. (California Government Code §12940[k]) In light of the obligation to provide a workplace free of harassment or discrimination, an employer clearly should objectively listen to your expressed concerns and not in any way retaliate against you for speaking your mind on perceived discrimination or harassment. Similarly, an employer may not treat an employee unfavorably because they would not participate in conduct that he or she reasonably believed to be discriminatory or constitute any form of harassment.
– Requesting Accommodation for a Disability or for a Religious Practice. Employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to employees. In addition to engaging in the interactive process in good faith, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations. (California Government Code §12940[m])
– Inquiring about Salary Information to Uncover Potentially Discriminatory Wages. Employees are fully within their rights to discuss salaries amongst themselves or even to ask managers and superiors for such information. Workplace policies regarding such practices are strictly illegal — as is retaliating against employees for seeking information on the subject or discussing wages, bonus programs and other forms of compensation.(California Labor Code §232)
If you feel that your employer has recently treated you unfairly because you asserted your rights under California law, it is important to contact an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. Signs that your employer may be retaliating against you include an unfavorable performance review, unwarranted verbal or written reprimands, demotions, job transfers, increased scrutiny and being excluded from meetings or communications in which you were previously involved.
For more information on workplace retaliation or other employee-related questions with respect to a potential claim against your current or former employer, contact the Perrin Law Group today for your free consultation.