Employment retaliation can occur when an employer terminates, fires, demotes or takes some other negative action against an employee, because that employee exercised a right protected under the law. Typically, employment retaliation occurs when an employee reports activities in which an employer has engaged that were either illegal and/or in violation of a law or public policy. The California Labor Code prohibits employers from retaliating, taking any adverse action, or any other type of discrimination because that employee:
- Files a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE);
- Participates in and/or files a civil suit or investigation against the employer;
- Reports discriminatory or other practices that were occurring at the workplace to the employer or an agent of the employer;
- Complains about working conditions and facilities; or
- Participates in a labor union or other activities related to the employees right of free expression and association
In California and Los Angeles, employers, trade organizations, labor unions and employment organizations can all be deemed as participating in retaliatory employment practices.
Wrongful Termination and Employment Retaliation
In Los Angeles, employment relationships are typically presumed to be at-will. This means that, technically, the employment relationship can be terminated at any time by either the employer or employee, without the other’s consent. However, an exception to the at-will employment presumption exists. Under this exception an employer can be found guilty for an illegal employment termination when the employee was “discharged for performing an act that public policy would encourage or for refusing to do something that public policy would condemn.” This exception allows an ex-employee to seek compensation or damages from an employer if the reasons for their termination were illegal. However, this exception would not be applicable if an employment contract exists between the employer and employee, which permits termination based on specific conditions, and/or for cause.
A wrongful termination claim can be submitted under the assertion that the employment termination violated California state laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), federal law, or the termination was against public policy. Under the FEHA, an employee can sue their employer, but not supervisors, managers or other employees for wrongful termination. An employer can be found guilty for both wrongful termination and retaliation in a variety of contexts.
If you were terminated, your employer can be found guilty of retaliation if you were discriminated at your workplace because of your race, age, color, national origin, sex, religion, mental or physical disabilities. Thus, if one of these protected characteristics is the reason why the wrongful termination occurred, an employee would have a legitimate claim for retaliatory wrongful termination. However, there has to have been a connection between the original discrimination and the subsequent retaliation that took the form of a wrongful termination or other illegal employment practice. Additionally, an employer can be found guilty of retaliation and wrongful termination if the termination occurred because that employee exercised some right provided and protected by the law. These rights include your right to freely express your viewpoints, discuss your salary, pay or other work benefits and conditions, and the right to report illegal conduct, just to name a few.
Los Angeles, California Employment Law Attorneys: Providing Exceptional Legal Representation and Guidance
Wrongful termination retaliation suits can be difficult and complex because of the multiple legal claims involved. Thus, if you are an employee or employer involved in a wrongful termination retaliation claim, you will need legal representation, advice and assistance from attorneys that you can trust. Contact the attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles, California for a consultation on your case.