California employment retaliation occurs when employers unlawfully punish workers for engaging in lawful activities, such as filing a complaint for sexual harassment, cooperating with an OSHA investigation, or filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Oftentimes, employer retaliation involves the use of pretextual reasons to justify the adverse employment action. For example, the employer may indicate the adverse employment action is justified by an employee’s poor work performance, when in reality, the motivation was retaliation for “rocking the boat.”
Many studies have established that workers in low-paying industries are especially prone to wage and hour violations, unsafe working conditions, and unlawful discrimination. They are also more likely to be retaliated against if they speak out.
Because retaliation is rarely blatant, it can be difficult to prove. As Los Angeles employment lawyers, we recognize the obstacles that wronged workers face in proving their retaliation claims. We also have the skill, experience, and resources to help them establish the truth in a court of law.
Targeting Workplace Inequalities By Tackling California Employment Retaliation
A recent report prepared by the National Employment Law Project examined the widespread problem of California employment retaliation, noted some of the reasons unlawful employment retaliation persists despite laws and accountability through litigation:
- Power imbalances between workers and their employers.
- Financial instability among workers, particularly those in lower-wage jobs – especially those who are immigrants. Threats of being reported to immigration authorities or simply the risk of bearing a substantial financial burden for speaking out keeps workers silent.
- California’s system of “at-will” employment that allows employers to fire workers for almost any reason (or no reason at all) – so long as it’s not discriminatory or fall under some other categorization that’s prohibited (such as retaliation). It creates an environment of fear that undercuts workers’ ability to speak up about unlawful treatment, inequality, or unsafe employment practices.