Workplace Retaliation. You are Protected – Hershey Law

In California, every employee is protected from employer retaliation. Delivered in various forms, retaliation is any adverse employment action unlawfully taken against an employee when employees have engaged in a protected activity. As the top employment lawyer in Los Angeles, the professionals at Hershey Law have seen and heard it all. 


In this article, we take a closer look at workplace retaliation, a few of the protected activities, and what you should do if your rights are violated.


What are protected activities?

Protected activities in the workplace are a range of activities that employees may engage in – without fear of retaliation from management or those in higher authoritative positions. The following are some of the most common examples of employee protected activities,:


  • Reporting Unlawful Activities
    • If an employee reasonably believes that the employer has violated a law or regulation, the employee has a right to report that violation to the government or a supervisor, and to testify during an investigation regarding the violation.
    • Employers cannot fire or punish employees for refusing to participate in unlawful activities.


  • Discrimination and Harassment Complaints
    • Employers are prohibited from firing or punishing employees who complain about, report, or otherwise oppose unlawful discrimination or harassment. 


  • Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation
    • Those with disabilities have a right to request reasonable accommodation.
    • Employees have a right to request a reasonable accommodation of their religious practices and observances. 
    • Individuals who have difficulty reading have a right to request reasonable accommodation. 
    • Employees with substance abuse have a right to request reasonable accommodation to participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. 


  • Family and Medical Leave (CFRA Leave or FMLA Leave)
    • Most employees in California have a right to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid family or medical leave per year for child bonding, to care for a parent, spouse, or child, or because the employee is suffering from a serious health condition. 
    • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who take CFRA or FMLA leave. 


retaliation lawyer la


  • Maternity Leave
    • Pregnant mothers have a right to Pregnancy Disability Leave if suffering from one or more of the following conditions: severe morning sickness, prenatal or postnatal care, bed rest, gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, postpartum depression, loss or end of pregnancy, and recovery from loss or end of pregnancy. 


  • Lactation Breaks
    • Employees cannot retaliate against an employee who has requested or expressed a desire to take a lactation break, which is a period of time during the work day for nursing mothers to express breast milk. 


  • Child Bonding Leave
    • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who take family leave to bond with a new child after child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement with the employee. 


  • Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
    • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.


  • Complaining about Unpaid Wages
    • Employees have a right to file a complaint with the California’s Labor Commissioner about unpaid wages, and also have a right to complain to their employer that they are owed unpaid wages. 


  • Discussing Income
    • Employees have a right to discuss the amount of their wages with other employees. 


  • Complaints about Unlawful Working Conditions
    • Employers are prohibited from firing or punishing employees who complain about workplace safety issues, or for reporting an issue of employee safety or health to a government agency, such as OSHA


  • Discussing Work Conditions
    • Employees have a right to discuss potentially unsafe or unlawful working conditions with other people.


  • Voting Time
  • Military Leave
  • Jury Duty
  • Parents and School-Related Activities

1  Labor Code, § 1102.5, subd. (a); Health & Saf. Code, §§ 1596.881, 1596.882. 2 Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (m) [“For any employer, labor organization, employment agency, or person to discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against any person because the person has opposed any practices forbidden under this part or because the person has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under this part.”]; Labor Code, § 1197.5. 3 Gov. Code, § 12940(a) 4  Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (l) 5 Labor Code, §§ 10411044 6 Labor Code, § 10251028 7 Gov. Code, § 12945.2 – Source: 8 Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 2, § 11035, subd. (f) 9  Labor Code, §§ 1030⁠–⁠1033; 29 U.S.C. § 207(r) [applying only to employers with 50 or more employees if such requirements would impose an undue hardship 10  Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11088, subd. (a) [“It is an unlawful employment practice for a covered employer to refuse to grant, upon reasonable request, a CFRA leave to an eligible employee, unless such refusal is justified by the permissible limitation specified below in subdivision (c).”] 11 Labor Code, § 132a. 12 Labor Code, § 98.6, subd. (a). 13 Labor Code, § 232, subd. (c) [“No employer may do any of the following: . . . (c) .Discharge, formally discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.”]. 14 Labor Code, § 6310, subd. (a). 15 Labor Code, § 232.5. 16 Elec. Code, §§ 1400014002. 17 38 U.S.C. § 4312 18 Labor Code, § 230, subd. (a) [“An employer shall not discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest jury or trial jury, if the employee, prior to taking the time off, gives reasonable notice to the employer that the employee is required to serve.”]. 19 Labor Code, § 230.8

Do you need the assistance of an employment lawyer in Los Angeles? 

In California, employees are protected from workplace retaliation in situations where employees have engaged in a protected activity. If you find yourself in a situation that involves retaliation – in any form – at your workplace, it is imperative to find an employment lawyer in Los Angeles that can assist. 

Unlawful actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Performance Improvement Plans
  • Write-Ups
  • Change in Schedule/Reduction of Hours
  • Increased Supervision
  • Reassignment of Job Duties


At Hershey Law, our team of experienced attorneys can help, and it starts with a phone call. Please contact Hershey Law today by calling 818-722-9649 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys will take the time to listen, understand, and present proven actions to provide you the justice you deserve.