Retaliation is any type of adverse action that an employer takes against an employee for reporting wrongdoing or exercising his or her rights in the workplace. This is also known as “whistleblower retaliation”. Retaliation is a way of punishing the employee for his or her decision and showing other employees that there are consequences to reporting wrongdoing or exercising their rights. There are many different ways that an employer can retaliate against an employee. Some examples of adverse actions include firing an employee, giving him or her a poor evaluation, reassigning him or her to an undesirable position, reducing his or her pay, or demoting him or her.
Retaliating against an employee is prohibited by both state and federal laws. It’s important to understand when you may be retaliated against by your employer so you know what to expect and how to protect yourself. Here are some of the many unlawful reasons why employers retaliate against their employees:
Participating in Discrimination or Harassment Claims
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination and harassment based on an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, age, and military/veteran status. Individuals who are discriminated against or harassed based on one of these protected classes are encouraged to report the incident in order to hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions. Even if you were not the one being discriminated against or harassed, you should still report the incident. But, many people who do the right thing and report discrimination and harassment are retaliated against by their employers.
Fortunately, the FEHA prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because she has reported discrimination or harassment. Employees who have participated in an investigation of alleged discrimination or harassment are also protected from retaliation under the FEHA, even if they were not the ones who filed the initial report. This means if you are asked to serve as a witness in a sexual harassment case against your employer, you are protected from retaliation.
Requesting Disability Accommodations
Employers must make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for individuals with physical or mental disabilities. For instance, an employee who is handicapped and in a wheelchair may ask their employer to make their office wheelchair accessible. As long as the request is not too difficult or expensive for the employer, it must be granted. Some employees fear that by making one of these requests, they will anger their employer and suffer consequences. But under the FEHA, employers cannot retaliate against employees who have made reasonable accommodation requests.
Requesting A Medical Leave of Absence
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the placement of a child in foster care. This law also gives eligible employees the right to take a leave of absence in order to take care of themselves or a family member with a serious illness. No employee should have to worry about the consequences of requesting a medical leave of absence that they are entitled to under the CFRA. Fortunately, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who made this type of request.
If you discover that your employer is engaging in an illegal activity, you may be fearful of the consequences that you will face for reporting this activity to the authorities. But, you should never have to worry about doing the right thing. California Labor Code 1102.5 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who has notified the authorities of illegal activity within the workplace.
If illegal activity is reported to the authorities, it’s possible that your employer will never know who actually reported it. As a result, management may retaliate against a number of people who they suspect of turning them in. But, this is also prohibited under California’s labor codes.
Employees may also find themselves in an uncomfortable position if their employer asks them to participate in an illegal activity. If this happens to you, don’t ever feel as if you need to comply with the request in order to keep your job. This labor code prohibits retaliation against employees who have refused to engage in illegal activity at their employer’s request.
Safety and Health Concerns
Employees may also feel obligated to speak out about health and safety issues, and if they do, they shouldn’t fear retaliation. Under California Labor Code 6310, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who have reported concerns related to the safety or health of the company’s employees. For instance, an employee who notifies authorities of unsafe working conditions cannot be fired, demoted, or retaliated against in any other way because of his decision to report his safety concerns. Employees who report work-related injuries or fatalities are also protected by this labor code.
If you work in the healthcare industry, you have a duty to care for the patients that come to you for help. This means if you discover a safety issue in a healthcare facility that could potentially harm patients, it’s important to report it to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Your employer cannot retaliate against you because you chose to report safety or health concerns internally or externally to a government entity or agency responsible for evaluating or accrediting the facility.
Legal Assistance for Retaliation Victims
Have you been retaliated against by your employer? If so, it’s important to seek legal representation from an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. The skilled team of attorneys at Javanmardi Law, P.C. will fight tirelessly for the justice that you deserve. To learn more about your legal options, call Javanmardi Law, P.C. at 818-714-1634 or email us at Peter@Javanmardilaw.com today.