What Are Retaliation Claims In California?

Updated: Jan 27

A Guide To Employment Retaliation Cases, Worker Protections, And Legal Options In California

California offers employee protections that allow all workers to fight for their rights without consequences. As a result, you should be able to report your employer, participate in legal investigations, and obey the law without getting punished or retaliated against. That said, if your employer punishes you for exercising your legal and employment rights, you need to immediately consult with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer.


In the meantime, here's a rundown of your rights, how to tell if you're getting retaliated against, and what you can do when it unfortunately happens to you at work.


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Employees are generally aware that there are laws in place to protect them from workplace discrimination and harassment. In addition, there are additional regulations that protect employees from retaliation in the workplace.

These laws are intended to safeguard employees from being fired for filing harassment or discrimination complaints or cooperating with workplace investigations. Instead, the employee may be fired or demoted, refused a raise or transfer, or passed up for a promotion or training opportunity as examples of punishment.

California workplace retaliation laws are in place to protect employees against retaliation by their employers. In California, workplace retaliation happens when an employer takes action against an employee who has engaged in any of the following activities:

  • Reporting a legal infraction/violation that your employer or coworker has committed

  • Making a workplace harassment or employment discrimination complaint

  • Participating in an inquiry into workplace harassment or discrimination

  • Making a request for reasonable accommodations because of a disability

  • Making a reasonable accommodation request because of a religious belief

  • Applying for a leave of absence under FMLA

  • Filing or participating in a California False Claims Act "qui tam" complaint.

Employees who disclose fraudulent or unlawful acts are protected from retaliation under the California False Claims Act and whistleblower laws. Whistleblower laws exist on both the federal and state levels. Employees in California have the right to initiate a lawsuit against an employer who embezzles, frauds, or steals government monies under the False Claims Act. In addition, if a whistleblower employee tries to stop the theft of government funds, they are protected under the California False Claims Act.

Of course, not everyone's retaliation case looks the same. You might have a specific experience that isn't common, but you feel it qualifies for a retaliation claim. For more information about your particular case and the possible legal steps you can take, contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you. Not only will they be able to supply you with more information, but they'll also be able to help you determine the grounds you have for an employment claim in California.

What Is the Difference Between Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Termination?


Wrongful termination and employment discrimination are two distinct notions. When employees exercise certain rights at work, employment discrimination protects them against negative responses from their employers.

Basically, employment discrimination is when your employer makes employment decisions based on your protected qualities or activities. So, for example, while being pregnant doesn't protect you from getting fired for poor performance and other reasons, your boss cannot fire you simply for being pregnant or taking pregnancy leaves. Likewise, your boss cannot refuse to hire an otherwise qualified applicant simply because of their age, race, color, sex, gender, and so on.

On the other hand, wrongful termination laws are intended to safeguard employees from being fired without cause, such as discrimination or the necessity for medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

In addition, many employees are at-will employees, which means that the employer can dismiss them at any time for any type of reason, and the employee can quit at any time for any reason. However, while employers can fire "at-will" employees whenever, that doesn't mean that they can fire you for illegal reasons.

What Are the Different Types of Retaliation?


In California, any unfavorable or adverse employment action taken by an employer against a whistleblower is considered illegal retaliation. These actions can be seen in a variety of ways, such as:

  1. Employee dismissal

  2. Demotion of an employee

  3. Employee blacklisting, or the practice of restricting future employment

  4. Reassignment of an employee to a less favorable role