There are many federal and state laws that protect workers against discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics, such as race or sex. But these laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights. In fact, retaliation is treated as a separate legal claim from discrimination. This means it is possible for an employer to be found liable for retaliation even if the employee cannot prove that any discrimination took place.
At Minnis & Smallets, LLP, our Oakland retaliation lawyers assist employees and employers in navigating these issues. In some cases, an employer may act reflexively without stopping to consider whether or not it is engaged in unlawful retaliation. Employees may not be fully aware of their rights under laws designed to prevent and discourage retaliation.
Not every disciplinary action taken by an employer qualifies as retaliation. The law specifically applies to workers engaged in certain “protected activities.” Some of the more common protected activities include:
There are also protected activities that directly relate to discrimination. For example, if a supervisor asks an employee for sexual favors in exchange for a raise, andhe employee rejects these advances, then the employer may be liable for retaliation if the supervisor fires the employee.
All that said, an employer is still free to discipline–or even fire–an employee for non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reasons. The mere fact that an employee has filed a discrimination complaint, or engaged in some other protected activity, does not automatically shield him or her from the normal consequences of the workplace. If an employer is sued for retaliation, it may offer such reasons as a defense in court.
At Minnis & Smallets, LLP, we understand how to work with these types of cases. If there is unlawful activity, we can help expose and correct the problem, oftentimes through a negotiated settlement that keeps everyone out of court. Call us today at 1-415-551-0885 or contact us online so we can schedule an initial consultation to learn more about your situation.