Employees have the right to report discrimination, harassment, fraud and other illegal acts without the fear of receiving adverse treatment from their employers. Federal and California laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for revealing injustice and corruption in the workplace. Retaliation comes in many forms, including:
From an employer’s perspective, simply firing an employee may seem like the easiest way to get rid of a legal headache. There are many reasons employers may fire employees, but they may not do so because the employee reported harassment, discrimination or another illegal practice.
While termination is probably the type of retaliation most people are familiar with, retaliatory actions can be much more subtle but no less damaging or legally actionable.
Unfavorable job duties
If you have reported unlawful activity at your workplace and now find yourself with less desirable work duties, you may be the victim of retaliation. A change in job duties can take many forms, from performing menial tasks you never before had to do, to being relocated to a branch that is inconvenient for you to travel to.
Poor performance review
Yearly and quarterly performance reviews are a common component of an employee-employer relationship. Much depends upon a positive review, from your annual compensation to yearly bonuses and the opportunity for promotion. If your recent review was less favorable than reviews from past years and does not seem in line with your actual performance, your employer may be treating you unlawfully.
A bad job reference
Retaliation can occur even after you leave a company. If your former employer refuses to give you a job reference or gives you an unfavorable reference because you blew the whistle, this may also be a form of retaliation.
Fighting back against retaliation
Workplace retaliation is an especially damaging act because the goal of those who use it is to punish employees for reporting unlawful acts and to deter others from doing the same. If you suspect you may be the victim of a retaliatory act, you are not alone. Powerful laws protect you and give you the right to pursue legal action.