For workers in California, the fear of losing their jobs or facing other retaliation might prevent them from reporting violations of their rights. However, the law is on their side. It is a good idea to become familiar with the available steps they could take should their rights ever be violated.
The law protects employees who speak up about outstanding wages and report health and safety hazards, dangerous working conditions or injuries. Furthermore, workers receive protection after filing complaints or claims with state agencies. Workers may join other workers in asking for changes without risking retaliation.
Employers may not retaliate or punish workers in any of the following ways:
- Send workers home or fire them
- Threaten workers with deportation
- Reassign workers to less desirable shifts or duties
- Prevent workers from securing other jobs
Workers may take the following steps for self-protection:
- Talk to co-workers and plan how to take action as a group
- Speak to an attorney or a worker organization about existing legal rights
- Obtain advice from such organizations about addressing problems and speaking to the employer
- Writing down notes during a meeting with the employer, including what was said and who was present
- Report the issue directly to state agencies if discussing it with the employer seems unsafe.
The process of reporting retaliation
Victims of employer retaliation in California can report it to the Labor Commissioner. However, it is important to file such claims within six months. If an investigation determines that retaliation occurred, the worker might recover owed wages, and in some cases, workers are reinstated in their previous jobs.