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Standing your ground: responding to retaliation in the workplace

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Firm News |

It is important to report illegal activities or safety violations in the workplace. However, employees should not experience discrimination or harassment as a result. Pressure to quit after making such a report may be a violation of your rights and a case of unlawful retaliation. Knowing your rights can protect you and address this serious issue.

Steps to take

If you suspect that your employer is trying to talk you into resigning after you report a workplace issue, it’s important to take some simple steps.

First off, document everything. Keep detailed records of all interactions, including emails, messages, and notes from meetings. This can also include all other retaliatory actions.

If you haven’t already, report your issue to your HR department. HR can often intervene and provide a resolution internally. If you are unable to reach a resolution, you might benefit from speaking with an employment lawyer who can provide advice specific to your situation.

Legal protection against retaliation 

California law has specific statutes designed to protect workers from retaliation. These are a few of the most notable:

  • Protection under the California Labor Code: Section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code protects whistleblowers. Retaliation by an employer, such as trying to force you to quit, could be a violation of state law.
  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): FEHA prohibits discrimination towards employees who file complaints about harassment or discrimination.
  • Constructive discharge: Under California law, a constructive discharge is when an employer’s conduct effectively forces an employee to resign. This type of resignation is often overlooked, even though the employee effectively had no other option due to misconduct on the employer’s part.

Remedies and recourse

A situation where you are being wrongfully terminated can be scary, but you have options to fight back. 

A good start is to file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These organizations can then investigate the matter further.

If there is evidence of wrongful termination, you may be able to have your job reinstated. This can include payment of back wages and other compensation for lost benefits and emotional distress. If all else fails, you have the option to pursue litigation against your employer.  

Moving forward with confidence

Employer retaliation can be a daunting experience. However, with the right approach and understanding of your rights under California law, you can navigate this situation more effectively. Remember, no employee should be forced out of their job for reporting misconduct. Taking action can make your workplace more fair for yourself and for your colleagues.