Wage Claim Retaliation: Harassed for Reporting Unpaid Wages | Mann & Elias
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Workplace Retaliation FAQ

Do You Have Questions About Retaliation? Contact an Employment Lawyer in LA

Did your employer retaliate against you when you filed a complaint at work? Although there are several laws in place making it illegal for unlawful conduct in the workplace, most companies still allow or even foster the idea of it. When you bring attention to illegal workplace conduct, an employer may act out of fear or retaliate hoping the investigation will be dropped. At Mann & Elias, our Los Angeles workplace lawyers have handled a breadth of employment-related retaliation cases, where employees stood up for their rights only to find themselves punished by their boss. In this article, we address and answer commonly asked questions about retaliation to help you if you are in a similar situation.

What is Retaliation?

Retaliation is when an employer may act with ill intent against an employee because he/she engaged in protected activity. Reporting illegal conduct does not permit an employer to act against you in any way.

In addition to federal law, Californians are protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under this rule, retaliation is prohibited in forms such as wrongful termination, demoting, or reducing pay. If employees were not protected from retaliation, significantly less would be coming forward to report an incident. Whether it was easy for you to address your concerns, an attorney for workplace fairness in LA is a great resource for legal advice and guidance.

Protected Activities – What Are They?

As an employee you have a legal right to do the following at work:

  • File a complaint to address concerns about discrimination or harassment.
  • Exercise your rights to take medical leave or file for workers’ compensation leave.
  • Raise concerns about wage and hour violations.
  • Report dangerous work environments and safety violations.
  • Take part in internal or government-based investigations that improve the well-being of all employees.

How Often Do Retaliations Happen?

In 2020, 37,632 charges of retaliation were reported through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When employees file complaints, the EEOC responds by holding the company and employer responsible, as government agencies don’t normally inspect workplaces without cause. In past years more allegations of retaliation were reported than any form of discrimination or harassment claims, which is a cause for concern.

How Can I Prove Retaliation?

Proving retaliation can be challenging but it is not impossible. You must be able to prove three things:

  1.   That you engaged in “protected activity” by exercising your right under California state law and federal law such as filing a claim with the EEOC about discrimination; or participating in an investigation about dangerous working conditions with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  2.   Your employer retaliated through hostile actions: termination, demotion, unfavorable work tasks.
  3.   The employer acted in response to the protected activity. Timing is often a significant factor in an investigation. If you were facing hardships at work after issuing a complaint, your lawyer for retaliation disputes in LA will be able to pair it with evidence to prove you were punished for speaking up.

What Can an Employer Do to Retaliate That May Lead to Filing a Claim?

Concerns of retaliation do not always result in wrongful termination. The Supreme Court declares any negative action to discourage an employee from making a complaint is unlawful, such as:

  • Refusal to employ, refusal to promote, or demoting.
  • Cutting pay or hours without reason.
  • Job transfers (like a demotion); unfavorable work assignments.
  • Giving an employer a bad reference of you after the complaint.
  • Unjustified negative performance reviews.

Are Retaliation and Whistleblowing the Same Thing?

Retaliation claims and whistleblowing claims are not the same, however they do have slight similarities.

Retaliation claims refer to an employer’s actions against you for behaving within your legal rights to engage in protected activity. You are legally entitled to report occurrences like wage withholding. When in doubt, our Los Angeles retaliation law firm can help you figure out whether your actions qualify as protected activity.

Whistleblowing, on the other hand, refers to reporting an employer’s illegal activities to the government or appropriate law enforcement. For instance, if your employer filed false tax returns you would be a whistleblower for bringing attention to criminal workplace behavior.

Are There Solutions for Retaliation?

Yes, there are solutions and remedies for retaliation. If you sue your employer, with the help of a trusted attorney for employer retaliation in Los Angeles, you may receive maximum compensation for damages caused when your case is won. A few financial retributions and benefits you can expect to see are:

  • Reinstatement for your position if you were fired.
  • Back pay: wages and benefits you lost because of retaliation.
  • Front pay: wages and benefits you may lose in the future because of retaliation.
  • Compensatory damages for pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages, with intention to punish your employer.
  • Attorney fees.

How Do I Bring Legal Claims Against My Boss?

There are a few ways you can report your employer at work. Before you decide we strongly advise you to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer to review your case.

Human Resources (HR) – If HR is available at your company, refer to their employer/employee handbook. You should provide them with a written report on what took place.

EEOC – Filing a charge of retaliation through an employment agency is the next step. Keep in mind, if you plan on filing a lawsuit, their investigation will be a prerequisite. If the EEOC is unable to reach a settlement on your behalf, you will be issued a right to sue letter.

File a Lawsuit – Victims of workplace retaliation have a short window (90 days) to act. Use this time wisely to build a strong legal defense.

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email info@mannelias.com.


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