A workplace retaliation settlement is rightful compensation for any employee who has been unfairly retaliated against at their workplace. Here is everything an employee needs to know about workplace retaliation settlements in California.

A retaliation settlement is a complaint made by an employee, former employee, or job applicant who has suffered retaliation or discrimination. These individuals have the right to file a complaint about retaliation or discrimination they have faced at the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Additionally, if the complaint is not resolved through this organization, an employee can sue for a workplace retaliation settlement.

What is Workplace Discrimination/Retaliation?

Employees are protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that prohibits discrimination from employers to any employees, job applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, and contractors. According to California law, retaliation can present itself in any of the following forms:

Workplace discrimination complaints can be filed for violations regarding:

  • Race,
  • Ancestry,
  • Religion,
  • Age (40 & over),
  • Disability,
  • Medical condition,
  • Genetic information,
  • Sex (including pregnancy),
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Marital status,
  • Military and veteran status, or
  • National origin (including language restrictions).

Additionally, discrimination can be illegal reasoning for why an employer is intentionally retaliating against an employee. Here are some examples of how an employer can retaliate against their employee based on their discrimination:

  • Advertisements,
  • Applications, screening, and interviews,
  • Hiring, transferring, promoting, termination, or separating employees,
  • Working conditions, including compensation,
  • Participation in a training or apprenticeship program, employee organization, or union.

Related: What Are Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace?

How to File a Retaliation/Discrimination Complaint

The California Labor Commissioner’s Offices holds that any retaliation or discrimination is prohibited at the workplace. Any employee who has faced retaliation or discrimination at their workplace is within their rights to file a retaliation complaint. Here are the steps an employee needs to take to successfully file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

Either file the complaint online here, or follow these steps to submit the claim by mail:

  1. Download and complete the Retaliation Complaint or Equal Pay Complaint form.
  2. Print, complete the form, and then sign and date it.
  3. Include copies of all of the documents necessary. Do not submit the original documents, those are to keep.
  4. Mail or deliver the completed form, and supporting documents to the local Labor Commissioner’s Office.

Additionally, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will send a written determination of whether or not they have determined that this employee has been retaliated against. The Labor Commissioner’s Office can require the employer to then:

  • Pay for any wages that were wrongfully lost when the retaliation occurred,
  • Pay financial penalties for each violation the employer has accrued,
  • Reinstate the employer at their former position if applicable,
  • Eliminate any reference to the negative action in the employee’s personnel file,
  • Prevent and prohibit the employer from further retaliating to this employee or any other employee,
  • Post a notice to other employers regarding the retaliation, penalties, and the agreement they committed to refraining from future retaliation.

The employer has 30 days to comply with the determination or the Labor Commissioner’s Office will file a lawsuit demanding compliance and additional relief. Note: the employee also has the option to omit filing a complaint and to only file a private lawsuit against their employer.

Related: How to Report Retaliation in the Workplace

A settlement is a formal agreement used to resolve a complaint. If the employer agrees to pay a certain amount agreed upon by the filing employee, then the case is settled. However, if no settlement is reached, then the employer can still file a lawsuit. Workplace retaliation settlements can be used to remedy an illegal employer retaliatory action.

How to Prove Retaliation in California

An employee must follow specific guidelines listed by California law to successfully prove retaliation in the workforce. Here is everything an employee needs to demonstrate in order to file a retaliation complaint:

  • The employee acted in a “protected activity”.
    • A “protected activity” can be any action that is within employee rights at work. Some examples of protected activities include: complaining about unlawful discrimination, unlawful harassment, safety violations, patient safety at a healthcare facility, or any other action that is protected by the law.
  • The employee was subject to significant adverse employment action.
    • Significant adverse employment action can be any severe action that is tangible and intentionally harms the employment status of the worker such as demotion or termination.
  • The reason or the main reason for this adverse employment action is because the employee engaged in the protected activity.
    • In short, the employee was demoted or terminated “because” of the protected activity, and not for any other reason. This includes any personal, and non-retaliatory actions.

Related: How to Prove Retaliation in the Workplace

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If you or a loved one would like to know more about workplace retaliation settlements in California, get your free consultation with one of our California Employment Attorneys today!