Empathetic Counsel. Aggressive Representation.

Walnut Creek Unlawful Retaliation Attorneys

Enforcing and Protecting Your Legal Rights in the Bay Area

Employees in the state of California have the right to fair, safe, and comfortable working conditions. Too many employees are afraid to speak up when something is amiss for fear of retaliation by their employers. All employees should be able to enforce their rights without fear of harassment, missing out on promotions, or even losing their jobs. 

If your employer has taken adverse actions against you as a result of your reporting misconduct, refusing to participate in an illegal activity, or requesting an accommodation, our legal professionals at Ratner Molineaux can help. Our Walnut Creek unlawful retaliation lawyers are committed to preserving workplace freedoms and can help you explore all of your legal options in these cases. We can also assist you when retaliatory behavior results in wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or employment discrimination. Our team will take the time to thoroughly understand your situation, review your rights, and develop solutions that will help you obtain the justice you deserve. 

If you think you have experienced retaliation from your employer, you have come to the right place. Contact us online or call (925) 332-1444 to discuss your case with us.

Protected Activities in California

California employees cannot be fired or retaliated against for participating in a “protected activity.” Many types of protected activities involve reporting, resisting, or refusing to participate in illegal activities.

Protected activities in California include:

  • Reporting or Threatening to Report Unlawful Behavior. This can include discriminatory conduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault, unlawful pay, fraud, or any other type of illegal activity. You always have the right to raise concerns about unlawful conduct internally or with the appropriate government authority. You do not necessarily have to file a formal complaint for a retaliatory act to occur. An employer may retaliate if you merely signal that you are only considering filing a complaint or telling others about your concerns.
  • Participating in a Government Investigation. When a formal discrimination or harassment complaint is filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the government may ask to speak with you as part of their investigation. An employer cannot retaliate against you for cooperating with investigative authorities.
  • Resisting Inappropriate Behavior. If you are being subject to sexual harassment or discriminatory behavior, you have the right to protect yourself and ask the perpetrators to stop. For example, an employer cannot retaliate against you for asking them to stop making lewd comments. Similarly, an employer cannot retaliate against you if intervene in an effort to protect someone else.
  • Refusing to Comply with an Unlawful Request. Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you refuse to do something that you reasonably believe to be illegal. For example, if you are a hiring manager, you could refuse to honor your employer’s request that a new job posting use patently discriminatory language.
  • Requesting Accommodations. You have the right to request reasonable workplace accommodations for disabilities and religious beliefs. Your employer can only reject an accommodation request if the accommodation somehow represents an “undue burden” to the business. They cannot retaliate against you for exercising your right to make a request. The Family Medical Leave Act also requires many California employers to provide protected unpaid leave to employees in certain situations. You cannot be retaliated against for requesting any protected leave you qualify for.

You may have a retaliation claim if your employer took adverse actions against you after engaging in any type of protected activity. Our Walnut Creek unlawful retaliation attorneys can analyze your situation and determine whether you have a strong case. 

Recognizing Signs of Unlawful Retaliation

There are numerous ways an unscrupulous employer can retaliate against an employee. Many types of retaliation will be extremely obvious, while others may be deliberately subtle and more difficult to prove.

Adverse actions that may constitute unlawful retaliation include:

  • Wrongful Termination. This is the most obvious form of retaliation. Your employer could attempt to dismiss you on false pretenses in an effort to conceal retaliation efforts. 
  • Harassment. Employees that “blow the whistle” or report other forms of misconduct are often consequently subject to hostile work environments. If you notice that your supervisors and/or coworkers are treating you differently or making inappropriate comments after you participate in a protected activity, their conduct likely constitutes retaliation. 
  • Demotion, Reduction of Hours, or Reduction of Pay. Your employer cannot demote you or reduce your wages as a result of your participation in a protected activity. In some cases, employers will threaten to demote someone or lower pay if they engage in a protected activity, which also constitutes unlawful retaliation.
  • Unfavorable Reassignment. Your employer could try and make your life miserable following your participation in a protected activity. They could abusively and exclusively assign you unfavorable shifts, take away key job responsibilities, and utilize other strategies to punish you. 
  • Unfavorable Relocation. Your employer may attempt to isolate you in order to compel you to quit. Your office and parking space could be intentionally moved to an inconvenient location, for example, or you could be arbitrarily forced to work at an entirely different worksite. 
  • Exclusions from Meetings and Company Resources. You may be the victim of retaliation if you notice you are being intentionally excluded from meetings you would typically attend – especially if the exclusion prevents you from adequately doing your job – or are being denied access to resources available to other employees in your role.
  • Unjustified Discipline. When retaliating against an employee, some employers will look for any reason to defend an eventual termination and will therefore embellish perceived offenses or discipline you without appropriate justification. Be wary if you notice you are being held to a different disciplinary standard after participating in a protected activity.
  • Defamation. Your employer cannot openly criticize you or spread misinformation about you as a result of your engaging in a protected activity. If your reputation is tarnished due to your slander or libel circulated by your supervisor or employer, you may have a defamation claim in addition to a retaliation case. 
  • Failure to Promote. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that your boss is passing you over for advancement opportunities due to your participation in a protected activity. Deliberately failing to promote on these grounds is still considered unlawful retaliation, but you will need a substantial amount of evidence to prove there is a direct link between the protected activity and the lack of advancement.
Why Ratner Molineaux?

The Difference in Our Approach

  • Empathetic Counsel. Aggressive Litigation.
  • Involved in 300+ Jury Trials
  • 65+ Years of Experience in Litigation

“David and Shelly are very professional, knowledgeable regarding the law, and truly the right attorneys to go to. They worked on my case with a BIG WIN.”

- M.C.
Filing an Unlawful Retaliation Claim in California

If you believe your employer has retaliated against you, you will in many cases need to file a claim with the federal or state government before you can pursue legal action. In most situations, you will have one year from the date of the retaliatory act to file a claim with DFEH and up to 300 days to file with EEOC. If you were retaliated against under the California False Claims Act, you can immediately file a lawsuit. 

The applicable government authority will investigate your complaint and decide whether there is enough evidence to pursue legal action on your behalf. If the government is not prepared to pursue its own lawsuit, you will receive a Notice of Right to Sue. You only have ninety days to initiate legal action against your employer upon receiving this notice from EEOC. You will have up to one year to file a lawsuit if you filed your complaint with and received a notice from DFEH. 

Our Walnut Creek unlawful retaliation lawyers know how to strategically approach these cases and can help you prepare your claim. We can represent you in court if you receive a Notice of Right to Sue and will fight to recover maximum available compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, damage to your professional reputation, and more. 

Our team at Ratner Molineaux is in your corner and is also prepared to help you combat workplace defamation that results from retaliation. We will work to set the record straight on background checks, reference checks, performance reviews, and office gossip that may be impacting your ability to advance and secure new opportunities.

Hold your employer accountable for retaliatory behavior. Schedule a free initial consultation with our firm by contacting us online or calling (925) 332-1444.


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