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What Does Workplace Retaliation Look Like and How Do I Prove It?

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According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the most often alleged basis of discrimination at work. In California, an employer cannot terminate or retaliate against you for engaging in certain types of protected activities.


What is Workplace Retaliation? 

Retaliation happens when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or job applicant for asserting their rights protected under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. Asserting one’s EEO rights is known as protected activity.


Protected Activity in California Workplaces

In California, your employer, supervisor, or coworker cannot retaliate against you for engaging in a protected activity. Under state law, employers may not engage in workplace retaliation against employees who participate or engaging the following activities:

  • Report an unlawful activity
  • Participate or file a discrimination lawsuit
  • Complain or refuse to participate in employment discrimination or workplace harassment
  • Request reasonable accommodations for a disability
  • Request reasonable accommodations for a religious practice
  • File a discrimination complaint with the EEOC


Signs of Workplace Retaliation

Some signs of workplace retaliation are pretty obvious. For example, your employer treats you in a discriminatory manner or takes an adverse employment action against you for reporting an unlawful activity. Other easy to spot signs of retaliation include:

  • Termination or getting laid off
  • Getting demoted
  • Denial of a promotion
  • Having your pay reduced or benefits terminated
  • Getting unjustified negative performance reviews

But sometimes, workplace retaliation can be less obvious. More subtle signs of workplace retaliation include:

  • Transfer of work location
  • Exclusion from meetings, workplace activities, or social activities
  • Hostile treatment


Examples of Workplace Retaliation

George works for a construction company and is one of their top-performing employees. One day, he noticed a safety violation and filed a workplace safety complaint. The next day, his employer terminated his employment.

In this case, George may be the victim of workplace retaliation because an adverse employment action (termination) was taken against him for engaging in a protected activity (reporting a safety violation).


How to Prove Workplace Retaliation 

To prove that you were retaliated against, you must show that you were the subject of an adverse or negative job action because you filed a complaint. To prove workplace retaliation, you must prove the following:

  • That you engaged in a protected activity
  • That your employer, supervisor, or coworkers took an adverse action against you
  • The reason that the adverse action was taken against you because you engaged in a protected activity

Not every negative action that your employer takes is considered retaliation. However, if the negative action was taken because of your engagement in a protected activity, it might be unlawful. If you’re unsure if you’ve been unfairly treated, speak with a workplace employment attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help you understand if any of your employment rights have been violated and help explain your legal options.


Contact a Los Angeles Workplace Retaliation Attorney Today

If you have been a victim of workplace or coworker retaliation, you have the right to file a claim. A workplace harassment attorney in our Los Angeles office can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact Mesriani Law Group today for a legal consultation.

About the Author
Picture of Rodney Mesriani
Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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