Every employee has certain rights at work. For example, as an employee you can’t be forced to perform illegal activities. You are allowed a certain amount of family and medical leave. You deserve a safe, healthy environment and full, on-time wages. If your employer punishes you in any way for asserting these rights, you may be a victim of workplace retaliation, and may have legal remedies available to make things right.
What Is Considered Workplace Retaliation in California?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee in response to the employee’s assertion of a legally protected right. Workplace retaliation is illegal because it discourages employees from asserting legally protected rights. Remember, however, that workplace retaliation and harassment remain separate violations of employee rights (although sometimes harassment can be considered a sign of workplace retaliation).
For you to prove workplace retaliation, you must prove that the punishment was an “adverse action,” that is, an action that directly had a negative impact on you or your career. The following are some of the most common types of adverse actions used to prove employer retaliation.
- Increased workload
- Involuntary transfers or schedule changes
- Denial of training
- Exclusion from projects, meetings, or career opportunities you should have access to based on position or seniority
- Unfair disciplinary actions
- Negative performance reviews
- Denial of promotions or raises
- Demotion or decreased salary
Employer retaliation can only happen in response to an employee carrying out specific protected activities related to employee rights as defined in California and federal law. If you are fired for speaking out against overtime abuses, for example, you may be a victim of retaliation. If you are fired for speaking out against a boss you simply don’t like, however, it’s unlikely to be a case of retaliation. The following are some of the most common types of protected activities that you cannot be retaliated against for carrying out.