Building Trust: Contingency Plans for How to Handle Workplace Retaliation and Employment Law Compliance

Things at the workplace often do not go as smoothly as employees want. Sometimes quarreling with your boss over trivial matters is fine, but if it results in unfair treatment, you could be a victim of retaliation.

According to a fiscal report by HR Watchdog (CalChamber), workplace retaliation affects most employees across industries. Most of the complaints registered with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are of retaliation.

The California employment law allows you to practice your rights, such as reporting illegal activities at the workplace. But that can sometimes result in retaliation.

By standing tall and resolute for the grim possibility of workplace retaliation, you can prevent your employer from further causing any harm. Here is your guide to a contingency plan for handling retaliation at work.

👉Also read: Exploring Management Styles: Is Micromanaging Illegal?

What is Workplace Retaliation?

Retaliation in the workplace could be any adverse action taken by the employer against an employee resulting from the victim engaging in a protected activity. The protected activity can be anything the law permits, such as reporting employment discrimination or misconduct or filing a complaint.

Besides unlawful termination, workplace retaliation can take many forms, including harassment, demotion, change in job assignments, or responsibilities. This misconduct can harm a worker’s career and well-being while creating a hostile work environment for others.

Under California law, practicing workplace retaliation and fostering a culture that promotes unfairness for employees is illegal. Some examples of how workplace retaliation looks like include the following:

  • Demotion or Reduced Responsibilities

After employees report a violation or raise concerns about unethical behavior, they suddenly find themselves with fewer responsibilities, fewer projects, or a lower job title. It is often a subtle form of punishment intended to discourage further complaints.

  • Isolation or Exclusion

Employees who speak out might notice they are excluded from meetings, social gatherings, or important communication, effectively cutting them off from relevant information and opportunities.

  • Unwarranted Negative Performance Reviews

Following a complaint or whistleblowing, an employee might receive disproportionately negative performance evaluations that don’t align with their work.

  • Denied Raises of Pay Cuts

An employer might start imposing stricter rules, giving harsher punishments, or micromanaging an employee’s work after they have raised concerns.

  • Spreading Rumors or Slander

Retaliation can include spreading false rumors about an employee to damage their reputation or create a hostile work environment.

  • Hostile Behavior or Bullying

Colleagues or supervisors might engage in hostile behavior, belittling, or bullying toward an employee who has reported misconduct.

Workplace retaliation is more vast than the examples mentioned above examples. If you think you are mistreated while other employees are not treated that way, it could be due to retaliation.

Discuss your case with our professional employment attorneys in Orange County, and take the proper legal steps. Call us at (818) 319-4684 for a free consultation and appoint renowned lawyers that believe in establishing a healthy attorney-client relationship.

Common Causes of Retaliation at Work: Why Does it Occur?

Retaliation in the workplace can occur due to a plethora of reasons. Generally, the adverse action by the employer is a response to the activity (lawful and protected) performed by the employee or coworkers.

For instance, if an employee reaches out to HR because they are not paid fairly, in return, the employer terminates or takes action against the individual, and retaliation occurs.

Another reason retaliation happens is when an employee complains about harassment, workplace discrimination, or hostile working environments. In some events, it could be a desire for revenge or due to personal hatred.

Regardless of why retaliation occurs, California law deems it unlawful and gives employees the right to file a complaint against the misconduct.

Let’s discuss some common causes of workplace retaliation in detail to understand it better.

  • Refusing to Participate in Unethical or Illegal Activities

Employees who refuse to engage in unethical and illegal activities are generally the victims of retaliation. The misconduct could be anything, such as falsifying documents or ignoring safety regulations.

  • Whistleblowing in a Case

Retaliation is the reason California has a dedicated Whistleblower Protection Act to safeguard employees from discriminatory actions. When employees expose unlawful conduct by their employer either by filing a complaint against it or being a witness in a case, they often face retaliation in the form of termination, denied advancement opportunities, or demotion.

  • Participating in Union or Picketing Activities

Another reason why employees experience retaliation is for participating in union activities or pickets. The law gives Cali employees the right to form unions and participate in protests against their employers for anything unlawful, such as physical or verbal abuse.

  • Complaining About Hostile Work Environment and Harassment

Employees who report workplace harassment, whether asking for sexual advances or verbal or physical abuse, may face backlash from those accused.

  • Requesting Accommodations

Sometimes requesting reasonable accommodations for disabilities, religious practices, or other protected characteristics might make an employee a victim of retaliation.

Some other causes of workplace retaliation include conflicts with superiors, exercising protected rights, and taking family or medical leave. It is important to note that employers can face consequences for retaliating against their workers.

If you believe the action taken against you is not justifiable, you must consult with retaliation attorneys immediately.

Contingency Plan to Handle Workplace Retaliation: How to be Prepared

No one wants to experience retaliation at work, but it still happens. While avoiding it might not be possible, being prepared to handle the misconduct puts you at ease. Below we have explained a contingency plan every California employee must know to prevent the consequences of retaliation.

Stay Calm and Collect Information

When faced with potential retaliation, the first step is maintaining your composure. Take a moment to gather incident details – note dates, times, locations, and individuals involved. These facts will serve as your foundation as you navigate this situation.

💡 A Tip:

Make notes on a digital platform and take a backup. Also, try not to use the official computer or iPad for taking notes, as you might lose access to them due to retaliation. 

👉Also read: Standing Up For Your Rights: How To Handle Retaliation At Work

Understand Company Policies

According to Fair Employment and Housing Act, California employers must have proper policies to report harassment and other unethical conduct. Therefore, your workplace will likely have policies against retaliation. Get acquainted with these policies to understand your rights and the proper procedures to follow.

If your employer does not have such policies, make sure to tell your lawyer about it at the time of filing a claim.

Seek Guidance from Trusted Colleagues

Connect with a trusted coworker or mentor who can offer guidance and support. Sharing your concerns with someone you trust can provide valuable insights and help you see the bigger picture.

Report the Incident to the HR Department

Reach out to your Human Resources department to discuss the issue confidentially, as they are the ones to handle retaliation and other issues. Present your concerns along with the evidence you have gathered. Most of the time, the HRs guide employees through the formal process and potentially mediate a resolution.

Preserve Professionalism

Losing your cool when your boss mistreats you or fires you without a valid reason is understandable, but it may worsen the situation. Maintaining professional conduct is an essential part of your contingency plan. Otherwise, your employer may get reasons to justify their illegal actions. Continue excelling at your responsibilities and uphold your work ethic like a reasonable employee.

Prioritize Self-Care

Retaliation situations can be emotionally taxing. Make self-care a priority by engaging in activities that alleviate stress- practicing mindfulness, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. Fighting against retaliation can be a long journey, so be prepared for it and get the justice you deserve.

Know Your Legal Rights

Educate yourself about your legal rights as an employee, as it will empower you to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions. For example, if you were unjustly dismissed, you must know your rights against it, such as filing a complaint with DFEH, EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), or other government agencies.

Consult an Employment Attorney

Retaliation is challenging to prove because the burden of proof is on you. However, consulting an employment attorney specializing in workplace issues can offer you legal guidance and representation.

Connect with a reputable employment law firm in Los Angeles, and keep them informed about your situation. The lawyers can tell you when to file a claim while helping you navigate the legal hurdles.

Employment Law Compliance: Things Your Employer is Obliged to Do

Every California business that employs 5 or more people must meet and follow some regulations and is obliged to maintain the standards. Staying compliant with employment laws such as the civil rights act is crucial to creating a fair and respectful workplace while avoiding legal liabilities. Following are some key aspects of employment law compliance:

Equal Employment Opportunity

As per California labor law, employers must not discriminate against employees or job applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Compliance with EEO laws involves fair hiring practices, promotions, pay, and workplace treatment.

Wage and Hour Laws

California sets a higher minimum wage than the federal standard, with gradual increases planned over the coming years. To uncover potentially discriminatory wages, the state also mandates overtime pay for any work beyond 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, including Saturdays. Additionally, meal and rest break requirements must be strictly enforced, granting employees specific break periods based on the length of their shifts.

Family and Medical Leave Act

CFRA (California’s Family Rights Act) allows eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within 12 months of the working period for various reasons, including family or medical needs.

It runs concurrently with the U.S. Department of Labor, which states that employers with 50 or more employees must provide eligible workers with unpaid leave for specified family or medical reasons. Compliance involves ensuring employees’ rights to protected leave and reinstatement upon return.

Pregnancy and Parental Leave (PDL)

PDL mandates that employers should accommodate employees with pregnancy-related disabilities. In addition to this, the CFRA extends parental leave rights, allowing eligible employees to take additional time off to bond with a new child.

Independent Contractor Classification

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) introduced a strict “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Compliance aims to curb misclassification and grant proper benefits to workers.

Anti-Harassment and Retaliation

The Golden State requires employers to provide anti-harassment training to supervisors and managers. To comply with the law, every workplace must have robust protections to prevent retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment or engage in protected activities.

What To Do If Your Employer Has Retaliated Against You?

Facing retaliation from your employer can be distressing, but taking proactive steps to address the situation is crucial. Here is a breakdown of the process to file a complaint if you believe you have been subject to employer retaliation.

  • Understand the Law

Before taking action, it’s essential to clearly understand the state and federal law as an employee in California. Familiarize yourself with the state’s labor laws and regulations about workplace retaliation.

  • Contact the California Labor Commissioner’s Office

The first step in filing a complaint is contacting the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. Go to their official website, and fill out the form to provide all necessary details to the department.

Take your time to complete the form accurately and thoroughly. While you are advised not to document the incident (as requested), ensure you provide specific information because a clear and comprehensive account will aid in the employer investigation process.

  • Seek Legal Advice

Filing a retaliation complaint can be complicated because you must provide all details accurately. It is crucial to seek legal counsel from an employment attorney specializing in California labor laws to help you understand the process. An experienced attorney can provide guidance, protect your rights, and advocate on your behalf.

  • Await the Review

After submitting your complaint, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will review the information provided. This step may involve a preliminary assessment of the details you’ve provided.

  • Potential for Mediation

In some instances, the authority handling your claim may offer mediation as an informal way to resolve the dispute between you and your employer. With the help and guidance of a retaliation attorney, you can settle the claim out of court by reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

  • File a Lawsuit

If your concerns are not adequately resolved through the administrative process, you may consider filing a lawsuit against your employer. Discuss it with your attorney; they will handle all the legal requirements and deadlines.

Contact Hershey Law and Stand Up Against Retaliation

As an employee, it is your right to have a safe workplace environment where your employer treats you and others fairly and by the law. However, if that does not happen, you can take action to get the employment benefits or damages you lost due to retaliation.

At Hershey Law, we have assisted many employees in filing and winning retaliation claims securing fair compensations for them. If you think your boss has retaliated against you, it is time to book a free consultation with our lawyers.

We work on a contingency fee basis, and you do not pay us anything until we win! Call us at 310-929-2190 if you suspect workplace retaliation, and discuss your case with our courteous attorneys.