Employment retaliation laws would not hold much weight if you could be punished by your employer for exercising your rights under them. Accordingly, retaliation laws and other employment laws include provisions to protect employees against retaliation by their employers. If you were harmed by retaliation because you engaged in a protected activity in your workplace, you should consult the California retaliation lawyers at Knoll Law Group.
Both federal and state retaliation laws prohibit retaliation against employees who engage in protected activities under these laws. Retaliation is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and other federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC guidance explains that retaliation occurs if an employer takes a materially adverse action against you because you asserted rights protected by the laws that the EEOC enforces. When you assert these rights, whether by reasonably opposing conduct made illegal under EEOC-enforced laws or by participating in the EEOC process, you engage in a protected activity. In order to recover damages under the federal retaliation laws, you will need to show that you engaged in a protected activity, your employer took a materially adverse action against you, and your employer was motivated to take action against you because of your involvement in the protected activity. Retaliation is also prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
FEHA prohibits retaliation against employees for engaging in actions that qualify as protected activities under the statute. Protected activities under FEHA refer to opposing employment practices that are unlawful under FEHA.
To establish retaliation under FEHA, a retaliation attorney in California will need to prove that you engaged in a protected activity, the defendant terminated, demoted, or otherwise took an adverse employment action against you, your protected activity was a substantial motivating reason for the defendant’s decision to take an adverse employment action against you, and the defendant’s retaliatory decision was a substantial factor in causing your harm. For example, if you were terminated because you filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer, you may be able to amend your lawsuit to add retaliation to your causes of action. Similarly, if you were demoted because you notified HR that your coworkers were bullying you because you are Muslim and calling you a terrorist, you may have not only a claim for religious harassment but also a claim for retaliation.
The court does not need to find that the underlying conduct that gave rise to your protected activity was unlawful under FEHA. However, a California retaliation attorney must be able to show that you had a good-faith belief that it was. For example, if you complain to HR about what you believe was disability harassment by your coworkers, your employer should not retaliate against you even if a court ultimately finds that the actions at issue did not meet the legal standard for a hostile work environment.
You can prevail in a retaliation claim even if you do not win in a separate claim for the underlying discrimination or harassment connected to your protected activity. Often, a worker can prevail in a retaliation claim even though the court has not found in their favor on their good-faith claim of discrimination or harassment. If you establish retaliation under FEHA, you may be able to recover lost wages and benefits, emotional distress damages, and attorneys’ fees. In cases of egregious employer misconduct, you may have a claim for punitive damages.
Employers sometimes attempt to penalize employees who stand up for themselves or others in the workplace. You should not be penalized for engaging in good faith activities protected by law. If you were subject to retaliation in a California workplace, you should talk to the attorneys at the Knoll Law Group about your situation. Call our firm at (818) 610-0955 or complete our online form to consult a retaliation lawyer in California.