Workplace Retaliation 

Companies in California have an obligation to create a safe and supportive working environment, one in which employees are treated with respect and their worker rights are upheld. Unfortunately, some companies have failed to uphold this responsibility.

Workplace retaliation California occurs when an employer punishes an employee for complaining about, reporting, or aiding in the investigation of any disregard of employee rights or illegal activity. Such behavior has career-damaging consequences.

If you or someone in your workplace is dealing with acts of retaliation, it is possible to file a claim and fight for justice.

Do you believe that your employer violated the law?

Types of Workplace Retaliation in California

Workplace retaliation is a serious concern for employees in California, as it can have a detrimental impact on their careers, livelihoods, and overall well-being. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee who has engaged in legally protected activity, such as reporting workplace discrimination, acts of harassment, or other unlawful conduct in the workplace. 

Some of the common workplace forms of retaliation in California include:

  • Termination or demotion
  • Reduction in pay or hours
  • Unjustified negative performance evaluations
  • Denial of benefits or promotion
  • Sexual harassment or other forms of mistreatment
  • Physical harm or threat of harm

Employees should be aware of how unlawful retaliation can manifest itself, and their worker rights, in order to take meaningful action. To better understand these facts, individuals may wish to consult the advice of an experienced retaliation attorney.

Protected Activities Under California Law 

As an employee, you have the right to report workplace misconduct without fear of retaliation from your employer. The state has established a robust set of workplace retaliation laws that protect workers from adverse actions such as demotions, wrongful termination, and other forms of punishment.

In California, labor laws offer employee protection in regard to:

  1. Employees are protected from retaliatory adverse action when it is taken in response to filing an employment discrimination, such as national origin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or complaint about harassment.
  2. Employees are protected from retaliation if they legally exercise certain employment rights, such as using sick days or taking family and medical leave.
  3. Employees cannot be fired, harassed, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against for opposing an employer’s illegal activity or filing a claim with the relevant government agencies.
  4. Any form of reprisal against an employee who serves as a witness in investigations of other employees is prohibited by California’s whistleblower laws.
  5. An employer may not take any kind of retribution against an employee for their political activities, including voting in elections or supporting any particular party organization, candidate, ballot measure, or other related activity.
  6. California’s law prohibits employers from punishing employees who lawfully engage in “concerted activities” that involve two or more individuals attempting to improve wages and working conditions through collective action.

Knowing how California laws protect against retaliation against employees is crucial to protect themselves, seeking legal recourse, encouraging reporting of illegal conduct, unethical or criminal activities, and promoting fair workplace conditions.

You have the right to fair treatment and a work environment where you feel safe. California Institute of Fair Employment is here to help you fight!

Employer Liability for Retaliation

Employers have the legal responsibility to not retaliate against an employee for engaging in protected activities such as reporting violations of workplace safety, discrimination, acts of harassment, or other illegal practices.

In California, the Labor Code Section 1102.5 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report suspected violations of law to a governmental agency or law enforcement agency, or who refuse to participate in illegal activities.

To prove employer liability for retaliation, the burden of proof is on the employee to establish that they engaged in a protected activity, that the employer was aware of the protected activity, that the employer took adverse employment action against the employee, and that there was a causal link between the protected activity and the adverse employment action.

If the employee can establish these elements, the burden of proof then shifts to the employer to provide a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the adverse employment action. If the employer can provide such a reason, the burden of proof shifts back to the employee to show that the reason provided by the employer was a pretext for retaliation.

Remedies for Workplace Retaliation in California

In California, there are several remedies available for the victim of workplace retaliation. These remedies are designed to provide compensation for any harm suffered as a result of the retaliation, such as wrongful termination damages or emotional distress damages, and to discourage employers from engaging in such behavior in the future.


If an employee has been wrongfully terminated or demoted as a result of retaliation, they may be entitled to have their job reinstated. This means that the employer must give the employee their old job back, or a comparable job with similar pay and benefits.

Back pay

If an employee has suffered financial losses as a result of retaliation, such as lost wages or benefits, they may be entitled to receive compensation for those losses. This can include payment for lost wages, lost benefits, and other expenses related to the retaliation.

Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the employee for any harm suffered as a result of the retaliation, such as emotional distress or damage to their reputation.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer for engaging in wrongful behavior and to deter similar behavior in the future.

Overall, the remedies for workplace retaliation in California are designed to protect employees from retaliation and to hold employers accountable for their actions. If you believe you have been subjected to workplace retaliation, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced employment lawyer to help you understand your worker rights and explore your legal options.

Together we can fight to get the compensation you deserve. Call Labor Law Advocates for a free consultation.

File a Claim: Statute of limitations Workplace Retaliation California

In California, there is a statute of limitations for filing a claim of workplace retaliation. The statute of limitations is the amount of time an employee has to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency or court.

Under California law, an employee who has been subjected to workplace retaliation must file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year of the date of the retaliation. The DFEH is the state agency responsible for enforcing California’s anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws.

If the employee chooses to file a lawsuit in court, they must do so within two years of the date of the retaliation. This means that the employee must file their complaint with the court within two years of the date on which the retaliatory action occurred.

It is important for employees who believe they have been subjected to workplace retaliation to act promptly and seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney. Failing to file a complaint within the statute of limitations can result in the loss of legal rights and the ability to seek compensation for the harm suffered as a result of the retaliation.

Remember that the statute of limitations may be tolled, or paused, in certain circumstances, such as if the employee was unaware of the retaliation or was prevented from filing a complaint due to factors such as illness or disability. An experienced employment attorney can help determine whether the statute of limitations has been tolled in a particular case.

How Can the California Institute of Fair Employment Help You?

As experienced employment lawyers, we can provide significant assistance to an employee who has experienced workplace retaliation. Some ways that Labor Law Advocates can help you include:

  1. Evaluate your case: We can evaluate your case to determine if you have a valid retaliation claim. We can review the evidence, interview witnesses, and analyze the legal issues involved to determine the strength of your case. 
  2. Provide legal advice: We are here to hear about your case and provide you with legal advice on your rights and options. We can explain the laws and regulations that protect employees against retaliation and advise you on the best course of action to take. 
  3. Represent you in legal proceedings: If you decide to pursue legal action, Labor Law Advocates can represent you. We can file a retaliation claim with the appropriate agency or court, prepare legal documents, and argue your case. 
  4. Negotiate a settlement: We can negotiate a settlement on your behalf if appropriate. We can work with the other side to reach a settlement that compensates you for your damages without the need for a trial.

Protect you from further retaliation: We can ensure you are not dealing with workplace retaliation by your employer again. We can advise you on steps you can take to avoid further retaliation, such as documenting incidents and reporting any further retaliation to the appropriate authorities.

 We can help you to navigate a successful claim. We are ready to provide free consultation and answer any question you have about the law on workplace retaliation.


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