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Proving Retaliation in a Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

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California employment law allows all employees to file a workplace harassment lawsuit if they face any kind of retaliation. In the eyes of the law, retaliation in a workplace refers to adverse or negative conduct by the employer that results because the employee reported discrimination in the company, they helped another employee in filing a complaint or refused to perform an illegal job. These behaviors are collectively known as protected activities, and any employer retaliating against an employee who engages in a protected activity may be liable for serious penalties under California law.

Workplace retaliation can be of many types. Giving unfair or negative reviews on the employee performance, denying a promotion or demoting the employee from their current post, refusing a raise for no apparent reason, increasing their workload, and taking unreasonable disciplinary action are a few of the most common types of employer retaliation. Sometimes, the employer may also terminate the employee because they engaged in a protected activity. Below is information on what constitutes proof of retaliation in the workplace and how a plaintiff can seek compensation for the damage caused.

Proving Retaliation in the Workplace

You must be able to prove the below three things when filing a workplace harassment lawsuit for retaliation.

  •       You engaged in a protected activity, such as filing a workplace discrimination complaint to the HR department, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  •       Your employer took an adverse employment action, such as refusing a raise or termination; and
  •       The adverse employment action occurred because of your protected activity.

In most cases, the last part can be very difficult to prove in court. For instance, it can be very easy if the employer fired the employee a month after you filed a workplace discrimination complaint. However, if the employer is laying off many employees as part of the company’s restructuring plans and included the plaintiff in the list as well, then it can be very complicated to prove that the action of the employer was based on a workplace discrimination complaint. That is why it is vital for business owners to hire a reliable California employment lawyer so they can have help in understanding how to proceed with a defense.

A professional lawyer will be experienced in managing such cases and will know how to disprove a connection between a protected activity and any employment action taken by an employer. Your lawyer can help you learn all your legal options as an employer, and will show you how to be prepared for a retaliation claim.

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