Protections Against Retaliation Apply Whether You Complain to Your Employer or to an Outside Regulatory Body
It is against the law for your employer to fire you or otherwise punish you for exercising your legal rights. The rights of employees include receiving the payment promised to them by their employers and required by law, taking a leave of absence from work pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and filing a workers’ compensation claim about a work injury, among others. Complaining about the denial of your rights is also a protected activity, as is reporting your employer’s wrongdoing to regulatory bodies. The Supreme Court of California recently ruled that “disclosure” of an employer’s misconduct includes both complaining to the employer itself or reporting the misconduct to third parties. A Los Angeles retaliation lawyer can help you if your employer took an adverse action against you after you complained about discrimination or another violation of your rights.
Court Rules That Employer Retaliated Against Employee Even Before She Complained to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
This year, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of a plaintiff whose employer retaliated against her after she complained to the employer directly, before she even brought her complaint to outside authorities. The plaintiff worked as a bartender at a bar from 2010 until 2014. In April 2014, the plaintiff complained to the owner of the bar that she had not received her paychecks for the last three shifts she had worked. The owner fired her on the spot and threatened to report her to immigration authorities if she ever returned to the bar. In June, the plaintiff brought her complaint to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, who ordered the employer to reinstate the employee’s job and to pay her the unpaid wages; the employer refused.
In the ensuing legal dispute, the parties disagreed about whether the employer’s decision to terminate the employee’s job counted as retaliation for the protected activity of disclosure of an employer’s misconduct. The employer argued that it is not a disclosure of information if the party who is receiving the information already knows it. In May 2023, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Justice Liu, who wrote the Court’s opinion, cited many examples of disclosures in which the party receiving the notice already knew the information that the writer or speaker was disclosing. Based on this, the Court reasoned that employer retaliation occurs when an employer fires an employee after the employee complains to the employer about the employer’s own misconduct.
The lesson from all this for employees is that it is never too soon to contact an employment lawyer about mistreatment you are receiving at work, even before you address the issue directly with your employer.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employer Retaliation Lawyer
A Los Angeles employer retaliation lawyer can help you if your employer fired you for demanding to be paid for work you had done. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.