Employees in the state of California are protected from employer retaliation in the event that the employee reports something to a law enforcement or government agency pertaining to the employer’s noncompliance with a state or federal regulation.
How Is Employer Retaliation Defined?
Retaliation refers to actions an employer takes against an employee in the event that an employee does something to make the employer unhappy. Examples of retaliation include:
- Threatening the employee
- Reducing the employee’s pay
- Firing the employee
Retaliation is illegal when an employer takes disciplinary action against an employee who reports a workplace violation to a government or law enforcement agency, as found under California Labor Code Section 1102.5(b).
Causes for Employer Retaliation
There are several federal and state statutes and regulations pertaining to the rights of an employee in the workplace. When one of these rules is violated, the employee has the right to file a complaint about the violation with the appropriate department.
The following actions or events may prompt an employee to file a complaint against their employer and may lead an employer to retaliate:
- Employee discrimination
- Being injured on the job
- Participating/not participating in union activity
- Illegal or unethical activities
If an employer retaliates for any of the above or for any other disclosure of information by an employee to a government or law enforcement agency, the employee has legal options.
How to File a Retaliation Complaint
Employees who believe that they’ve been victims of retaliation or denied an opportunity or employment in a manner that is in violation of the law has the right to seek legal counsel and file a retaliation complaint with the California labor commissioner. The majority of retaliation complaints must be filed within six months after the retaliation occurs, although the statute of limitations is extended to one year or two years in some cases, depending upon the cause of action.
What Will Happen After I File a Retaliation Complaint?
After a complaint has been filed with the labor commissioner, a retaliation complaint investigator will contact you. Any witnesses, as well as your employer, will also be contacted. After evidence has been collected and a thorough investigation has been conducted, the retaliation investigator will present the information to the labor commissioner.
At this point, the labor commissioner will make a determination about your claim. If the labor commissioner determines that there is not enough evidence to make a decision, then a hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, additional facts and evidence will be presented. During a hearing, having an attorney to represent you is key.
It is important to know that your employer has no legal right to punish you for filing a retaliation complaint.
Seek Legal Help When Filing a Complaint for Employer Retaliation
Having an attorney on your side who can help file your complaint, gather evidence and present factual data during your hearing can be essential when battling against employer retaliation. If you believe that you have been illegally retaliated against, the attorneys at Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP, can represent you.
To learn more about California laws regarding employees’ rights, how to file a complaint if you’re retaliated against, and how taking action can help to protect you and other employees, call us now at 619-369-3323 or email us.