While you have a right to report cases of harassment and discrimination at your workplace or take part in investigations of such claims, your employer may not take it kindly. You may face their wrath, directly or indirectly, and it might affect your continued stay at the job.
If this happens, you could be a victim of workplace retaliation, and you need to take action against your employer. The law protects you from any form of retaliation for participating in protected activities. Therefore, your employer’s retaliatory acts could be unlawful.
What can be considered workplace retaliation?
Retaliation can be any adverse action by your employer against you for taking part in a legally protected activity. Some forms of retaliation include:
- Unfair scrutiny
- Getting a reduction in wages or other job benefits
- Unjustified negative reviews of your performance
- Being transferred to a less desirable shift or role
The list is far from exhaustive since retaliation can take many other forms. As a victim, here is what you need to do: You first need to follow your organization’s internal procedure for handling such cases. Once you have exhausted all the internal avenues and the retaliation persists, it may be time to explore your other options.
Filing a workplace retaliation complaint
If your retaliation is a result of reporting a workplace discrimination incident, filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) should be your next step.
The agency will investigate your claim, and it has the authority to award damages such as reinstatement or back pay. It may even issue your employer a cease-and-desist order to stop any further acts of retaliation. You may also receive a right-to-sue notice from the agency whereby you can proceed to file a civil lawsuit against your employer.
Protecting your rights at the workplace
Do not suffer silently, even if you are employed at will. You still have rights you need to protect, and if you are unsure of how to proceed with your case, it is advisable to seek help.