Retaliation

Download PDF

Retaliation

California and Federal laws prohibit an employer from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because the employee engaged in conduct protected by law. Protected conduct includes things such as:

  • Exercising the right to pursue claims against an employer before the California Labor Commissioner. (Labor Code § 98.6.)
  • Making a written or oral complaint for unpaid wages. (Labor Code § 98.6.)
  • Providing an employer notice of a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. (Labor Code § 98.6.)
  • Exercising rights to equal pay under California’s Equal Pay Act (Labor Code § 1197.5)
  • Disclosing wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise his or her rights under California’s Equal Pay Act. (Labor Code § 1197.5)
  • Participating in politics or political activities. (Labor Code §§ 1101-1102.)
  • Disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (Labor Code § 1102.5.)
  • Refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (Labor Code § 1102.5.)
  • Exercising a statutory right or privilege. (Labor Code § 98.6.)
  • Opposing unlawful discrimination and/or filing a complaint, testifying, or assisting in any proceeding against an employer for unlawful discrimination. (Gov. Code, § 12940(h); 29 U.S.C.A. § 623(d); 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-3(a); 42 U.S.C.A. § 12203(a).)

Remedies for Retaliation

California law provides that an employee who was discharged or otherwise suffered an adverse employment action in violation of these provisions is entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages. (Labor Code §§ 98.6(b) and 1197.5.)  In addition, an employer who violates these provisions is subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation. (Labor Code §§ 98.6(b), 1102.5(f).) Recent amendments to California law, which took effect on January 1, 2015, make the $10,000 civil penalty payable to the employee or employees who suffered from the violation(s). It is also a misdemeanor for an employer to willfully refuse to reinstate or otherwise restore an employee who is eligible for reinstatement.  (Labor Code §§ 98.6(b), 1103.)

An employee who is subject to retaliation for opposing unlawful discrimination or participating in a claim for unlawful discrimination against his or her employer may also be entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages and an award of reasonable costs and attorney fees. (Gov. Code, § 12965; 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981a, 12117(a).)

Contact Kaplan Weiss LLP if you believe you are the victim of unlawful retaliation by your employer.

Resources: