Workers in California have specific rights that protect them from getting fired or being punished for asserting certain rights against discrimination or unsafe conditions. If you lost your job because you stood up to your employer, or your work conditions have changed as a result, you can take legal action.

What is retaliation? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses activities that are considered to be retaliation against the employee. It occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee who took part in certain protected activities. An employer may not retaliate against someone who:

  • Participated in an harassment investigation
  • Filed an EEOC or OSHA complaint
  • Resisted sexual moves or harassment
  • Requested information potentially related to discriminatory pay
  • Refused to discriminate against others
  • Requested a religious or disability-related accommodation

The challenge for an employee who is being retaliated against by losing hours, getting transferred to a lower-paying position, being denied benefits or losing their job is to prove it. An employer can fire an employee for a number of other legitimate reasons, so it is important to document and show proof there is a direct connection between the protected activity and firing.

FindLaw gives advice as to how to prove a retaliation claim. The employee must show proof he or she was participating in an activity that is protected by federal law and that this led directly to a particular punishment. The employee must also show proof of the punishment, such as change in hours or the loss of a job. The proof can be both circumstantial and direct evidence. A good attorney can help show the connection in a clear manner.