Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP

48% of all the charges the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received in 2017 alone were related to retaliation. Unlike the number of other employment charges that have remained relatively constant year after year, the rate of retaliation charges has risen annually since 2000.

This statistic shows how employees are becoming increasingly aware of their rights and are working to protect them. San Francisco employment lawyers can help you understand the faces of employer retaliation and ways to avoid being a victim.

Who Can Fall Victim of Employer Retaliation?

You can only be a victim of employer retaliation if you are a protected employee. It will also be easier to watch out for possible retaliation if you know your protected status in California. If you have taken part in any protected activity in the past, you might be a potential victim of retaliation in the workplace.

These activities could include:

  • Asking co-workers or managers about salary information to unearth potentially discriminative remuneration
  • Requesting to have a religious practice or disability to be accommodated
  • Attempting to protect others from sexual harassment or resisting similar advances
  • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
  • Addressing issues of harassment and employment discrimination with a manager or supervisor
  • Answering questions during an investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination
  • Being a witness or filing an EEOC lawsuit, investigation, complaint, or charge

The acts that can make you a protected employee are not limited to the ones listed above. You can become a potential victim of retaliation in many other ways. Consulting with San Francisco employer retaliation attorneys can remove any doubts you might have regarding your protected status.

How Does Retaliation Look Like in California?

Your ability to avoid employer retaliation also depends on how well you understand actions that amount to retaliation in California. There is a thin distinction between acts of retaliation and ordinary organizational policy changes. It is challenging to distinguish them, but the keen eye of employer retaliation attorneys in San Francisco, CA, can tell the difference after analyzing some other related factors.

Retaliation can manifest in subtle acts or significant forms. Protected employees should watch out for the following common acts:

  • Threatening to report someone’s immigration status
  • Treating your family member negatively.
  • Making your work more difficult
  • Changing your work schedule to conflict with your family responsibilities
  • Spreading false rumors
  • Removing your supervisory responsibilities
  • Transferring you to do less desirable or prestigious work or work location
  • Lowered or negative evaluations
  • Work-related warnings, threats, or reprimands
  • Abusive physical or verbal behaviors to create a hostile work environment or deter protected activity
  • Scrutinizing attendance or duties more closely than that of other employees, without justification, and threatening reassignment

Employers that value their reputation and want to avoid lawsuits are usually keen on how they treat protected employees. Remember that retaliation cases aren’t difficult to prove, and if an employee wins the case, the business can lose a lot of money in compensatory damages.

Which Impact Does Organizational Culture Have on Retaliation?

Companies that encourage employees to whistleblow have fewer incidences of retaliation. They could either be vocal about it or establish ethics and compliance programs within the business.

An employer can adopt an anti-relation culture in an organization in a number of ways:

Anonymous Complaint Process

These companies have in-house whistleblowing hotlines where employees can call anonymously and express concerns. This allows the business to make possible amendments before they get more serious and prompt serious lawsuits.

Resources for Ethical Decision-Making

Employers that use professional resources to make decisions can avoid actions that can easily be interpreted as retaliation. It might also be easier for them to defend certain actions and decisions early into the investigation.

Careful Handling of Adverse Employment Actions

An organization needs a clear policy on adverse employment actions, such as terminations, suspensions, and warnings. Any such action should always be attached with supporting documentation to be used in case of a lawsuit.

Training on Ethical Conduct

Hiring an expert to train the employer and other staff members on proper ethical conduct is a smaller sacrifice compared to the damages an employer would have to pay from a retaliation lawsuit. A continuous training program cements habits into the organizational culture.

A well-designed and outlined code of conduct that discourages retaliatory behavior is an excellent way for business owners to prevent retaliation against protected employees. If you are lucky to work in such an organization, you are less likely to have a retaliation experience.

How Does the Law Protect Employees From Retaliation?

The California law has statutes that discourage various types of retaliation. San Francisco employer retaliation attorneys are knowledgeable enough, and you don’t have to struggle to capture every detail. Employers who work closely with their employment lawyers often avoid these legal mistakes.

Discrimination-Related Retaliation

Employees are entitled to equal opportunity regardless of their age, national origin, or gender. Thus, retaliating against an employee who questions discriminatory actions contravenes Government Code section 12940(h).

Whistleblower Retaliation

According to Labor Code Section 1102.5, no one should retaliate against you for refusing to participate in illegal actions or for reporting your employer for perpetrating unlawful acts in the organization.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

Labor Code 132a protects you from being treated differently after receiving a workers’ compensation award after sustaining a workplace injury.

Wage & Hour Claim Retaliation

Labor Code Section 98.6 discourages retaliation against an employee that claims their unpaid wages in writing or orally.

Paid Sick Leave Retaliation

This can happen when punitive action is taken against employees that use their accrued paid sick days because it contravenes the Labor Code Section 246.5 (c).

Equal Pay Act Retaliation

Retaliation against an employee that has disclosed their wage information, inquired about another employee’s wage, encouraged an employee to take action, or takes action to enforce equal pay; violates Labor Code 1197.5

Lawyers Fighting for Justice on Behalf of Workers

Employees can play their part by understanding what retaliation looks like and whether their actions are protected. As for employers, they need to consult with attorneys who can help them understand the law and build an ethical culture in their organization.

Being a complex subject, you might benefit from the expertise of an experienced employment attorney in California. If you feel your employer is taking adverse action against you due to what you did or said, talk to us today to analyze your situation.

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP