Doing the right thing shouldn’t be difficult, regardless of whether that’s in your personal or professional life. Yet, all too often, California workers find themselves in positions where their job security may be put at risk if they do what they think is right. This shouldn’t be the case, and those who are retaliated against by their employer may have legal recourse to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
One thing that is critically important to remember is that there are a number of employment-related activity that is protected and should never subject an employee to retaliatory action by an employer. Filing a complaint or serving as a witness to an Equal Employment Opportunity claim is protected, and so, too, is raising issues related to discrimination and harassment with one’s supervisors and managers. Workers are also protected from retaliation when they refuse to obey an order that would result in discriminatory practices, and workers shouldn’t be negatively affected for refusing sexual advances.
What is tricky about these cases is that employers are not prohibited from taking disciplinary action or firing an employee for non-retaliatory purposes. So, what you may see what appears to constitute wrongful termination but that an employer tries to justify as non-retaliatory in nature, even though the firing occurred shortly after a protected action on the employee’s behalf.
A wrongful termination can be long in the making, too. For example, if one consistently received appraisals that were lower than justified as a result of protected activity until the point that he or she is terminated from employment, then that employee may be able to argue that wrongful termination has occurred.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you think that you have been the subject of retaliation, whether related to wrongful termination, improper discipline, transfer to a less desirable position or one with lower pay, or the spread of rumors and threats, then legal action may be justified. Going head-to-head with employers can be stressful and challenging, though, which is why it is often best to address these matters with the help of a competent legal advocate.