Navigating Orange County’s Retaliation And Employment Laws

Have you ever felt like standing up for yourself or someone else at work backfired? Like reporting sexual discrimination led to a heavier workload, a passed-over promotion, or even the cold shoulder from your boss?

If you have ever felt unfairly targeted after raising your voice against unethical practices, you might be a victim of workplace retaliation. While California is renowned for its employee-friendly labor laws, acts like retaliation still happen beneath the state’s “at-will employment status.”

Whether you are facing challenges in understanding if you are being retaliated against or want to know about laws that protect you from such illegal activities, this article is all you need.

Has the workplace retaliation reached a level where you can no longer cope with the mental and financial burden? Speak to our professional employment lawyers and discuss your case free of charge.

👉Also Read: When Retaliation Occurs, Know Your Rights: Find an Employment Law Firm To Guide You

Workplace Retaliation in Numbers: A Closer Look at the Stats

Retaliation is one of the pressing issues in California, with a significant prevalence in many workplaces. While speaking up about issues at work is a fundamental right, many employees face unfair consequences for doing so. Let’s have a look at the statistics to understand how deep-rooted retaliation is in today’s work environment. 

  • A survey by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) revealed that nearly 2 in 5 workers in California have faced workplace violations. Among those who reported these violations, a majority experienced some form of employer retaliation.
  • According to a recent article by Cal Matters, the number of workplace retaliation claims in California has significantly grown from 3,378 cases in 2021 to 4,878 claims in 2023. 
  • In a survey conducted on 1,000 California employees in Jan 2022, 38% of the participants revealed that they experienced some form of violation at the workplace. Surprisingly, only 10% of these employees filed a complaint, fearing retaliation. 

These statistics paint a stark picture of the impact of retaliation in California. Therefore, it is crucial for employees like you to be aware of their rights and the laws to protect themselves from adverse actions in the workplace. 

What is retaliation, and How to Recognize it?

Retaliation occurs when an employer, through a manager, supervisor, or any other representative, punishes an employee for asserting their rights protected by law. The punishment or illegal action can take various forms and is not limited to job termination. 

Some protected activities that can lead to retaliation often include:

  • Filing a complaint about discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions.
  • Refusing unfair or illegal requests, such as sexual advances or discriminatory practices.
  • Cooperating with legal proceedings related to workplace issues.
  • Participating in an investigation related to workplace violations.
  • Whistle-blowing on illegal activity within the company.

The law considers it as retaliation when participating in any of the protected activities leads to:

  • Changes in your job duties such as increased workload, less desirable tasks, or even demotion.
  • Increased scrutiny, verbal abuse, social isolation, or other tactics that make your work life unbearable.
  • Unfavorable schedule changes, reduced hours, or inconvenient locations. 
  • Unjustifiably poor reviews that do not reflect your actual performance.
  • Being fired without just cause, especially after raising concerns.

Recognizing retaliation is not always easy, as some employers are subtle. For example, they use tactics like micromanagement or isolation to make your life difficult without leaving a paper trail. If you are not sure about the red flags of retaliation, consult employment attorneys in Orange County today.

Understanding Retaliation and Other Related Employment Laws in Orange County

California has a robust legal framework of labor laws compared to federal law that protect employees from retaliation and other workplace disputes. These laws are primarily embodied in various sections of the California Labor Code and other statutes. Below, we have explained the important anti-retaliation laws that every Orange County employee must know.

Labor Code Section 1102.5 – Whistleblower Protection

Under this labor code section, the state establishes strong whistleblower protections. The law is particularly crucial for employees who uncover illegal or non-compliant activities within their organization. If you, as an employee, disclose information to a government or law enforcement agency where you have reasonable cause to believe your employer is violating laws or regulations, you are protected under this statute.

It means your employer cannot legally retaliate against you — through firing, demotion, suspension, or any form of adverse employment action — for your whistleblowing actions.

Labor Code Section 98.6 – Protection for Filing Complaints

Labor Code Section 98.6 is designed to protect employees who engage with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, particularly those who file complaints, institute proceedings, or testify about labor law violations, such as issues related to wages and hours.

This law assures you that you can exercise your rights as an employee to report labor violations without fear of employer retaliation. If your employer does retaliate, you may be entitled to remedies such as reinstatement, reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, and even coverage of your legal costs.

Labor Code Section 6310 – Occupational Safety and Health

Section 6310 of the California Labor Code is crucial for maintaining safe working conditions. The law protects employees who report unsafe working conditions or practices, either to internal authorities or external bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

If you raise concerns about workplace safety, you are shielded from retaliatory actions by your employer. This includes protection from job termination, demotion, reduction in your working hours or pay, and other negative consequences.

Labor Code Section 230 – Jury Duty and Victim Leave

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who need to take time off for jury duty or because they are victims of a crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

The Labor Code Section 230 makes it mandatory for employers across Orange County and the state to accommodate these absences, ensuring that employees do not have to choose between fulfilling civic responsibilities or addressing personal victimization and the security of their jobs.

Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – Anti-Discrimination and Harassment

Although not part of the labor code, the Fair Employment and Housing Act or FEHA is a cornerstone of California’s employment law, offering broad protection against retaliation.

FEHA safeguards employees who file complaints, participate in investigations, or oppose practices prohibited under the act. The law protects you from illegal practices of your employer for engaging in activities such as reporting discrimination or harassment.

Need information about the aforementioned and other retaliation and employment laws such as California False Claims Act or the Equal Pay Act (federal)? Or which government agency to contact to file a complaint?

Dial or schedule a free consultation with our employment law attorney. We listen to you carefully and help you understand about the California law applicable to your case to help you get justice. 

How to Establish a Prima Facie Case of Retaliation 

Filing a claim of retaliation is complicated because you need to convince the court/agency that your employer’s actions against you were likely motivated by your protected activity, not by some other explanation. Here are the four elements required to establish a prima facie case:

  1. You exercised a right protected by law, such as whistle-blowing on illegal activity or reporting wrongful termination.
  2. Your employer was aware of your protected activity before taking adverse action against you.
  3. You experienced a tangible negative consequence in the workplace, for example, job loss, negative performance evaluation, or a hostile work environment.
  4. There is a connection between your protected activity and the adverse action. It does not have to be direct proof, but the timing and circumstances should suggest a link.

Why Hire Retaliation and Employment Law Attorneys in Orange County: The 5 If’s

Meeting the above-mentioned elements does not guarantee winning the case, so you should hire a seasoned employment lawyer. Here are five if’s, why you must appoint attorneys to handle your retaliation claim.

If the Details of Your Case are Complex or Unclear

Retaliation cases can be intricate tangles of events, dates, and emotions. If the details surrounding your situation are complicated, an attorney can help you understand the most suitable legal route.

Additionally, workplace retaliation lawyers can analyze evidence, identify key points, and build a coherent narrative that strengthens your claim.

If Your Employer Has a Strong Legal Team

Facing an employer with a formidable legal team can be intimidating. However, having an experienced employment attorney by your side can level the playing field by providing equal legal assistance. The attorneys can anticipate your employer’s arguments, counter their claims, and ensure your voice is heard loud and clear in court.

If You Do Not Know How to Proceed 

Because California is an at-will state, employers often play tactics to get away from the legal consequences. If you are not sure how to proceed against your employer or about the state or federal statute, it is best to onboard an experienced employment lawyer to prove retaliation.

Whether communicating with your employer or fending off unnecessary pressure from your shoulders, attorneys empower you to focus on what’s truly important: seeking justice. 

If You Want Gelp Gathering Evidence And Building a Strong Case

A strong retaliation or any other employment-related case rests on a foundation of relevant evidence. Reputed lawyers in Orange County, like Brennan Hershey and the team, can help you gather relevant documents, witness testimonies, and other vital elements required to prove your charges.

They can identify gaps in evidence, suggest strategies for gathering missing pieces, and ensure all the pillars of your case are rock-solid.

If You Are Seeking Significant Compensation Or Damages

If your retaliation claim involves significant financial losses or emotional damages, legal expertise is a priceless resource. Attorneys have the skills and experience to assess the potential value of your case, negotiate for fair compensation, and navigate the complexities of pursuing damages.

👉Also Read: Preventing Workplace Retaliation: Best Practices for Employers and Employees

Address Your Workplace Disputes with Hershey Law!

The statute of limitations for filing a retaliation claim in Orange County ranges from 6 months to 2 years, so there is no time to waste! If you believe you have been retaliated against by the employer or you suspect retaliation, our skilled attorneys are here to protect your rights.

Whether you need help establishing a claim or proving the damages you have suffered, count on our lawyers. We understand that dealing with workplace issues is often accompanied by financial stress, so we offer services on a no-contingency fee basis.

Contact us at 310-929-2190 to book a free consultation with one of our finest attorneys and proceed with your legal claim today.