New Law Gives California Employees the Benefit of the Doubt in Employer Retaliation Claims
Many cases of employment discrimination follow a familiar story. The employee does not feel welcome in the work environment from the start. Her direct supervisor seems to find fault with her about issues great and small, and coworkers make derogatory comments about the employee’s race, gender, or family status on a frequent basis, and even though many of these comments do not refer directly to the employee, they make her feel like her coworkers are assuming the worst about her. The employee constantly worries that she will be fired, and although her worst fears do not come true, her performance evaluations make it sound like she is one minor mistake away from losing her job. Eventually, the employee summons the courage to complain to human resources about the way her supervisor treats her. After this, things get worse, and a few weeks later, the employee gets demoted or reassigned to an even more difficult job. She is sure that this is employer retaliation, but how does she prove it? In California, it just got easier for employees to persuade the courts that the unfair treatment they have experienced at the hands of their employers counts as retaliation. To find out more about how to prove that your employer’s adverse action against you was an act of retaliation, contact a Los Angeles retaliation lawyer.
What Is Employer Retaliation?
Employer retaliation is when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee to punish the employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. Protected activities include filing workers’ compensation claims, taking FMLA leave or other legally protected family leave, reporting misconduct in the workplace to regulators or law enforcement, or complaining about discrimination, to name just a few examples. Adverse actions include termination of employment, demotions, denials of raises, and unfairly negative performance evaluations.
How California SB 497 Helps Employees
In every employer retaliation case, an employee alleges that his employer took an adverse action against him after the employee engaged in a protected activity. The employer usually does not deny taking the adverse action, but instead claims that the adverse action was not retaliatory. Correlation does not equal causation, so how do you prove that your protected activity was the employer’s motivation for the adverse action? Pursuant to a new law, SB 497, the court will assume that, if the adverse action happened less than 90 days after the protected activity, the two are related. The burden of proof is now on the employer to prove otherwise. If the employer cannot provide compelling evidence that there was a justifiable reason for the adverse action, the court will rule in your favor. This “shifts the burden” of proof, as originally, the employee bore that burden of establishing retaliation.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer
A Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer can help you if your employer took an adverse action against you shortly after you engaged in a legally protected activity. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.