In California, there are laws prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees for engaging in protected activities. The San Francisco retaliation attorneys at Minnis & Smallets want employees to understand their rights so that they will recognize workplace retaliation if it occurs.
Retaliation can be broadly defined as taking an adverse action against an employee for engaging in activity that the law protects. Retaliation can take many forms, including termination, demotion, negative performance feedback or other significant changes to the terms of employment, and discourages other employees from engaging in protected activity.
In general, laws that prohibit retaliation protect the employee’s right to engage in defined activities that are protected by law. For example, laws that prohibit workplace discrimination or harassment generally protect an employee’s right to oppose discrimination or harassment by:
As a general rule, if the employee acts in good faith by making or supporting a discrimination complaint that the employee reasonably believes to be true, then the employee is protected—even if it turns out that the complaint was unfounded.
Employment laws that require employers to offer employees a reasonable accommodation, such as the accommodation of a disability or religious practice, protect the right to make those requests. Whether or not the employer is required to grant the request, the employer cannot retaliate against an employee who makes such a request for accommodation in good faith. Requesting an accommodation for a disability is protected activity.
Whistleblower laws generally protect employees who report or refuse to engage in an employer’s violation of a federal, state or local law or regulation, including laws or rules, including those pertaining to securities, fraud, and occupational health and safety. As a general rule, California law protects employees who complain internally, such as to a supervisor, or externally, such as when they report concerns to a governmental agency. In many cases, the law protects the employee from retaliation, even if the employee is mistaken, so long as the employee acted in good faith and reasonably believed that a violation occurred.
Whistleblowers may want to obtain legal advice from a San Francisco employment lawyer before they “blow the whistle” so that they gain the protection of applicable whistleblower laws.
The most obvious example of retaliation is to fire an employee for engaging in protected activity. Other examples of retaliation may include:
Keep in mind that not every adverse action gives rise to a claim for retaliation, and in some cases, an employer might have a legitimate reason to take any of the actions described above. The employer’s action, no matter how harmful it might be to the employee, is retaliatory only if it was motivated by the employee’s protected activity.
Distinguishing a legitimate business decision from a retaliatory act is not always easy. In most cases, retaliation has to be shown by circumstantial evidence, such as the timing between an employee’s protected activity and the employer’s adverse action. A San Francisco employment lawyer can help employees understand whether there is strong evidence that actions taken against them by their employers were retaliatory.
Laws that protect employees from retaliation generally set a time limit for taking legal action to seek a remedy after an employer retaliates. Sometimes those time limits are quite short.
An employment lawyer in San Francisco can help employees who believe they have been subjected to retaliation. The attorneys at Minnis & Smallets have years of experience handling retaliation cases. Appointments can be scheduled at our San Francisco office by calling 1-415-551-0885 or submitting our online contact form.
If you are looking for advice or representation, please contact us today using the form below and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.
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