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Know Your Rights If You Experience Workplace Retaliation

Individuals who are subjected to discrimination, sexual harassment or any other unethical or illegal treatment in the workplace may be hesitant to report it because they fear retaliation. It is important to know that if you report a workplace infraction, you are protected against retaliation.

What does this mean? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that you cannot be unfairly terminated, unnecessarily relocated, demoted, moved to an undesirable shift or position, subjected to a decrease in pay, or given a negative job performance review that is not based on actual job performance merely as a result of reporting discrimination or illegal activity by an employer.

In order to prove that an employer has retaliated against you, it must be shown that you have been subjected to a negative action such as those above, and that your employer acted as a direct result of you reporting a workplace infraction.

The employment law attorneys at Jay S. Rothman & Associates represent workers throughout Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley in retaliation cases.

Understanding Retaliation And How To Prove It

Proving that workplace retaliation occurred requires showing that you participated in the reporting or investigation of a “protected activity,” and that your employer took negative action against you as a direct result.

Proving the causal relationship between an employee’s actions and retaliation on the part of an employer can be challenging. It is important for workers who believe their employer has retaliated against them to keep detailed notes about the timing of their actions as well as the employer’s retaliatory action. It is also wise to keep records of any explanation your employer provides regarding the adverse action taken against you.

In whistleblower cases, in which an employee reports illegal activity on the part of an employer, the person reporting the activity may remain anonymous. An employer may still be accused of retaliation in these cases if they take action against one or more employees who they suspect reported the illegal activity.

What You May Be Able To Recover

In order to sue an employer for retaliation, you must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the EEOC clears the way to file a lawsuit, you may seek damages against your employer. This may include:

  • Lost income – You may be able to recover backpay if your salary was lowered. If your previous pay rate is not reinstated, you may also be able to recover pay you would have received in the future. You may be able to receive compensation because your lifetime earning power has been damaged as a result of the employer’s actions.
  • Lost benefits – You may be able to recover the value of job benefits such as bonuses, paid vacation and health care coverage if they were negatively affected as a result of the retaliatory action.
  • Pain and suffering – Experiencing workplace retaliation is emotionally difficult. It is possible to recover compensation for the embarrassment, anger, frustration and other emotional turmoil the incident has caused.
  • Punitive damages – This is rewarded less often than other damages in retaliation lawsuits, mostly in cases where an especially egregious action has occurred.
  • Attorney fees – In retaliation and other employment law cases, lawyers typically receive a percentage of the amount recovered. However, a judge may order an employer to pay the full amount or part of your legal fees.

Prompt Action Is Important

Under California law, a person generally has one year from the time of the retaliatory act to acquire a right to sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. After that, you have an additional year to file your case in state or federal court.

It is wise to enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable employment law attorney to help you assess the facts of your case and navigate the steps that must be taken to bring legal action against your employer. We welcome the opportunity to review your case and answer your questions in a confidential and free initial consultation. Call 818-986-7870 or use our online contact form to schedule a meeting.