When an employee engages in a protected activity, be it refusing to break the law or reporting unsafe work conditions, he or she should be protected from any adverse action from an employer. This is the basic principle underlying the various anti-retaliation laws in California - an employer can't retaliate against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. In practice, bringing a successful anti-retaliation claim against an employer can be more involved. Sometimes, even when an employee has clearly engaged in a protected activity, he or she may not be successful in bringing a claim. If, for example, an employer had a legitimate reason for firing the employee it is up to the employee to show that the protected activity was a substantial motivating factor in the retaliation.