LAWS PROHIBIT YOUR EMPLOYER FROM RETALIATION IN CERTAIN CASES

Your employer has a right to discipline you for poor work performance or attendance, up to and including termination. Usually, this type of action requires a lot of paperwork and your employer has to tell you exactly where you went wrong and why they are taking the action they are. The reason employers take so much care when disciplining employees is that they are not allowed to extend discipline as a form of retaliation.

This means that an employer cannot use discipline to respond to an employee who is exercising any type of protected rights. You cannot be punished or retaliated against for asserting your rights against discrimination or sexual harassment or reporting instances of either of those things, for example.

Employers are also not allowed to retaliate against workers who oppose a practice that is illegal. If you refuse to do something illegal, report illegal activity or testify as a called witness in a case about illegal activity, your employer isn’t supposed to retaliate against you.

The type of things employers might do that could be construed as illegal retaliation include marginalizing a worker so he or she can never move up, refusing to promote a qualified worker solely because of a desire to retaliate or refusing to give a pay raise for the same reason. Docking pay, unfairly going after an employee for numerous minor offenses when others are not treated the same way and termination for no other reason can also be forms of illegal retaliation.

If you feel like you are being retaliated against for asserting your rights or reporting illegal behavior, then you might have a case against the employer. If you have lost your job, fear for your job or are working in a hostile work environment, consider speaking with a lawyer today.

Source: HR Hero, “Retaliation in the Workplace,” accessed April 29, 2016

DOS AND DON’TS FOR EMPLOYER RESPONSES TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT

When someone in a workplace reports an issue of sexual harassment, an employer should take action. However, the type of action that an employer takes is critical to both the employer and employee. The wrong actions can actually result in a situation that is retaliatory in nature, and this could happen even when the employer has good intentions regarding the matter.

When someone reports a possible issue of sexual harassment, an employer should investigate the matter. To reach this point, however, the employer must have a safe and confidential means for individuals to make complaints. If someone feels that they will report an issue and that information will be shared freely with others, they are less likely to do so. If only one person in the entire company takes such reports, there’s a chance that that person could harass someone and no one would ever report it. Employees should have viable options for making such reports.

Once a report is made, employers should investigate the issue and take appropriate action. That action should never be punishment of the person who did the reporting. Even moving that person to a new position to “alleviate discomfort” could be seen as retaliation — although this might not always be the case. Employers should definitely not fire, demote or otherwise alienate someone who has reported an issue.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and you feel that you employer does not have an appropriate reporting policy or you feel that your report has spawned harassment, it might be time to talk to someone outside of your workplace. In such a case, if the employer has not appropriately responded to your complaint, you could have the basis for a legal case in Sacramento.

Source: Dummies.com, “How to Deal (with) Sexual Harassment Claims from Your Employees,” Max Messmer, accessed March 18, 2016

RETALIATORY ACTIONS CAN BE DIFFICULT TO SPOT

Some people don’t speak out against illegal behaviors where they work because they are afraid of being fired, demoted or retaliated against at work. The fact of the matter is that these actions might happen, but they are illegal. Employers are forbidden from taking retaliatory actions against an employee who makes complaints about the company as long as the complaints are factual. We know that facing the prospect of losing your job because you speak up against illegal actions might be unnerving. We can help you to understand your rights and the options you have to handle the situation.

There are some instances in which retaliatory actions might be difficult to notice. You might be moved to a different shift or to a new position. The employer might claim that they have a valid reason for the move. If the move is made strictly because you make a complaint about sexual harassment or some other illegal action, the move is considered retaliation.

Another example is if you are passed over for a promotion. It can be very difficult to prove that you didn’t get the promotion just because of the complaint you filed. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take action regarding the retaliation.

When we work with you, we investigate your case to discover the truth. When we find the truth, we can help you to go through the possible actions you can take. As your case moves through the appropriate system, we work to ensure that your side of the incident is accurately conveyed and that your interests are protected.

INVESTIGATE AN EMPLOYER’S RETALIATORY ACTIONS

Retaliation was the topic that we covered in our previous blog post. If you recall, we discussed how employees who are whistleblowers have specific rights that prevent the employer from being able to retaliate against the employee. Still, some employers opt to retaliate against employees who file complaints of any sort. We know that you didn’t speak out about discrimination, harassment or any other negative action just because you wanted to start trouble. We understand that you were only doing what you needed to do.

If you have been retaliated against because you spoke out, you have the right to put an end to that retaliation. We can investigate your case to determine what the root cause of the retaliation was. As long as the retaliation wasn’t because of negative performances by you when you are doing your job, you can seek compensation for retaliation.

When you are seeking compensation for retaliation, the investigation will need to focus on what happened to cause the retaliation. For example, if you always have good performance reviews but were demoted after you made a complaint about sexual harassment, the performance reviews might be used to show that you were doing your job. In that case, it would be possible to link the demotion with the sexual harassment complaint.

You wouldn’t be able to claim retaliation if you were demoted because you had a long history of coming in late to work or failing to do your job. When it comes to claims of retaliation, making sure that we can link the retaliation to the complaint you filed is critical. We will work hard on your behalf to do just that.

WORKPLACE RETALIATION IS ABOUT FEAR

Many people assume that workplace retaliation is about getting even or getting revenge. For example, your boss could make sexual advances on you, you could reject them and file a complaint, and then he could demote you or fire you. It seems like a clear-cut case of trying to make your life worse because you didn’t give in.

However, some experts say that the goal isn’t really getting even at all. It’s more about fear.

They argue that people will retaliate when someone files a report or takes proper action because they want to send a message to all of the other workers in the office—and perhaps to you, as well. They want you and everyone else to be afraid because they have all of the power.

This way, if that person makes advances on another employee in the future, that employee will be more scared to do anything. After all, he or she saw what happened to you, and the new employee doesn’t want the same outcome. That person may give in to advances that are not welcomed or at least refrain from filing reports in order to keep the job.

By doing this, the person who is in charge creates a culture of fear where people are willing to let their rights be violated because the alternative seems worse. This is how they try to skirt the laws and get away with doing things that break the rules.

It’s important for workers not to give in to fear; if you’ve been threatened with retaliation, be sure you know all of your legal rights in California.

Source: Everyday Psychology, “What is workplace retaliation? It’s about making people afraid.,” Paul G. Mattiuzzi, accessed Nov. 06, 2015

LEARN HOW TO HANDLE RETALIATION AND WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Facing a situation at work that makes you uncomfortable doesn’t make doing your job easy. When that situation is something that is illegal, you might opt to speak out against it. In the case of sexual harassment, you might opt to file a complaint with the appropriate person in your company. In the case of illegal actions by your employer, such as federal law violations, you might opt to contact the appropriate agency to file a report. It is vital that you understand your what rights you have after you take action against the issues.

One important point that you have to understand is that you can’t be subjected to retaliation or wrongful termination. This means that your employer can’t fire you, demote you, or take other adverse actions against you because of the complaints you filed.

We know that speaking out against a co-worker, manager or employer isn’t easy. Still, if there are things going on that shouldn’t be going on, you should speak out. We can help you learn about your options for filing complaints. We can also help you to learn how to protect your interests once you make a complaint.

You should understand that you can’t slack off on your job after you file a complaint. If your employer takes adverse action against you because of a valid reason, your employer is within their rights. The only way that you can file a claim regarding retaliation or wrongful termination is if the action your employer takes is because of the complaint you filed.

We can look into your case to help you learn what options you have for dealing with the adverse actions. You don’t have to face the situation by yourself.

LEARN HOW TO HANDLE RETALIATION AND WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Facing a situation at work that makes you uncomfortable doesn’t make doing your job easy. When that situation is something that is illegal, you might opt to speak out against it. In the case of sexual harassment, you might opt to file a complaint with the appropriate person in your company. In the case of illegal actions by your employer, such as federal law violations, you might opt to contact the appropriate agency to file a report. It is vital that you understand your what rights you have after you take action against the issues.

One important point that you have to understand is that you can’t be subjected to retaliation or wrongful termination. This means that your employer can’t fire you, demote you, or take other adverse actions against you because of the complaints you filed.

We know that speaking out against a co-worker, manager or employer isn’t easy. Still, if there are things going on that shouldn’t be going on, you should speak out. We can help you learn about your options for filing complaints. We can also help you to learn how to protect your interests once you make a complaint.

You should understand that you can’t slack off on your job after you file a complaint. If your employer takes adverse action against you because of a valid reason, your employer is within their rights. The only way that you can file a claim regarding retaliation or wrongful termination is if the action your employer takes is because of the complaint you filed.

We can look into your case to help you learn what options you have for dealing with the adverse actions. You don’t have to face the situation by yourself.

WHAT ARE DIFFERENT EXAMPLES OF RETALIATION BY AN EMPLOYER?

We have discussed a variety of issues related to employees filing complaints against employers. In almost every case, we have mentioned that employers can’t retaliate against employees who file valid complaints against them. Retaliation is any adverse action by employers because of complaints about protected activities.

What are adverse actions?

Adverse actions are actions that an employer or employer’s representatives take that have a negative effect on the employee. This can include firing the employee, demoting the employee, refusing to promote a qualified employee, reducing the pay of the employee, changing the schedule of the employee or making the workplace hostile for the employee. Even actions like negative reviews can be classified as adverse actions.

What are protected activities?

A protected activity is an activity that alerts an employer or others about illegal, unethical or discriminatory occurrences in a workplace. An employee who files a complaint about sexual harassment, one who complains about discrimination and an employee who is considered a whistleblower are all considered protected employees since they engaged in protected activities.

Are all adverse actions retaliation?

In order to make a claim of retaliation, the employee has to show that the adverse action is directly related to the protected activity. That means that an employee who is shirking job duties can’t claim retaliation for a negative performance review as long as the performance review was accurate.

If you think that you have been the victim of retaliation, you should work to understand if your case meets the criteria set for retaliation. Once you know that your case qualifies, you can learn about the ways you can seek compensation for the retaliation.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Facts About Retaliation,” accessed Sep. 16, 2015

RETALIATION ISN’T ACCEPTABLE FOLLOWING SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS

In our most recent post, we discussed the case of the bakery worker who is suing the former Santa Cruz mayor and her husband over claims of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation at the bakery the former mayor owns. If you recall, the alleged harasser was the former mayor’s husband. We know that it is difficult to think about taking legal action against your employer; however, when you are being subjected to sexual harassment and become the victim of retaliation when you speak up against those unlawful actions, you might find it necessary.

We want you to know that retaliation because you speak up against sexual harassment isn’t lawful. You can take action against your employer if your pay, duties, hours or other factors related to work change in a negative manner after you speak up about the harassment. There are state and federal laws that offer specific protections against retaliation.

We will work with you to learn about the events of your case. We will work on your behalf to collect the evidence that is needed to prove that you were retaliated against. You don’t have to try to gather evidence and handle all the legal work on your own. We are here to advocate for you and help protect your rights.

One of the first things we will have to do is to determine exactly what the retaliatory actions were. We will try to discover the underlying reason for those actions so that we can help you explore your options for handling the sensitive matter.

WOMAN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST FORMER SANTA CRUZ MAYOR AND HUSBAND

Employees should be safe at work; however, there are some instances in which employees are put in danger by the very people who should be working to protect them. This is the case when an employee is sexually harassed. Even if no physical harm comes to the person, the feelings of being violated and other emotional aspects of the events are often traumatic. A case involving a former Santa Cruz mayor and her husband highlight the horrible tragedy of sexual harassment.

The alleged sexual harassment occurred at Emily’s Good Things to Eat from 2012 through May. A former employee has filed a lawsuit that lists the former mayor and her husband as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the man groped the victim, smelled her belongings, smelled her hair, touched her hair, gave unwanted kisses and licked her coffee cup.

The lawsuit also alleges that the man would discuss his sex life and ask the victim about hers. It says that he would block the door until she would hug him.

When the victim complained, the complaints weren’t investigated in a timely manner, notes the complaint. It also notes that the owner and her husband reduced her managerial duties in response to the complaint she filed. The woman quit her job but said that she was constructively discharged.

This young woman is said to have filed the lawsuit to prevent other people from being sexually harassed at the bakery. She is seeking damages for physical and mental distress, lost wages and benefits.

Anyone facing sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment like this woman faced has the right to put a stop to those actions. Learning your options to do so is a good first step.

Source: Capitola-Soquel Patch, “Bakery Ex-Employee Alleges Sexual Harassment In Complaint Filed Against Former Mayor, Her Husband,” Susan C. Schena, July 22, 2015