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What is workplace retaliation in California?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2023 | Discrimination And Harassment, Employment Law - Employee

Workplace retaliation is illegal in California. Some laws that address workplace retaliation in the state include the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSHA) and the California Whistleblower Protection Act.

What is workplace retaliation?

Workplace retaliation is when an employer seeks revenge on an employee for taking specific action against the employer. Usually, the employee has reported the employer for a workplace violation.

For example, an employee has the legal right to report workplace occurrences of discrimination and harassment. An employee can also report safety violations without fear of punishment. An employee could also experience workplace retaliation for participating in legal proceedings against an employer.

However, workplace retaliation isn’t automatically illegal. But it is illegal in response to an employee reporting certain protected activities – such as sexual harassment or racial discrimination. That means an employee who reports such behavior is protected from workplace retaliation.

Types of workplace retaliation

Retaliation in the workplace can occur in several ways. For example, an employee might report an employer for a workplace violation. That employee later gets fired, suspended, demoted or sent to a different office without justification. The employee suffers in some way for reporting the violation.

Other forms of retaliation are harder to spot but are just as harmful. An employee who reports a violation might be excluded from workplace activities. For example, the employee might not be invited to an office holiday party or an important meeting. Or perhaps the employee could receive an undeserved poor job performance evaluation.

Employers who engage in this activity can face legal action and may have to compensate employees for damages. These damages can include several things, including lost wages, mental distress, and pain and suffering. The exact compensation depends on the state and circumstances of the case.