Most people know that there are laws to protect them from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. What many don’t know is that there are also laws to protect them against employer or workplace retaliation. Employers are prohibited from “punishing” or retaliating against employees that make discrimination or harassment complaints, participate in workplace investigations, etc.
Employer retaliation comes in many forms not just the obvious firing or demotion. Employer retaliation can also come in more subtle forms: being denied a raise, being declined for a transfer to a more desirable position or location, being passed over for training or mentoring opportunities, etc.
To put it simply, retaliation is occurring when an employer punishes an employee due to their involvement in a legally protected activity. Retaliation can be defined as any action that negatively affects the employee’s job including: discipline, pay decreases, firing, demotion, reassignment, shift reassignment, etc. In situations where the retaliation is not quite so obvious, the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that the circumstances of the situation must be considered. A certain action, such as job transfer or shift reassignment, may not be an adverse action or employer retaliation in every situation, but in certain situations, for instance, a single parent with young children, something as seemingly harmless as changing their work hours could be deemed retaliation. Any situation in which the action taken by the employer deters a reasonable individual in the situation from making the complaint or cooperating with the investigation, etc. constitutes illegal employer retaliation.
If you need to discuss specifics to determine whether or not you might be the victim of employer retaliation, please call Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik, California employment law specialists, immediately so we can help you determine your legal options.