Claims for retaliation comes in many forms and may be based on the California Fair Employment and House Act (“FEHA”), the California Labor Code, and whistleblower protection statutes.
Retaliation Under the FEHA
A plaintiff employee can establish a case of retaliation under the California Fair Employment and House Act (“FEHA”) by demonstrating that (1) the plaintiff engaged in protected activity, (2) the employer retaliated with an adverse employment action against the plaintiff, and (3) there is a casual link between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. See Yanowitz v. L’Oreal USA. Inc. (2005) 36 Cal. 4th 1028, 1042.
What is Protected Activity?
There are a number of activities that are legally protected including the right of the employee not to be compelled to commit an illegal act, the filing of complaints against the employer, whether they be internal (i.e. within the company) or external (i.e. in an administrative or judicial setting).
What is an Adverse Employment Action?
Examples of adverse employment actions include increasing work hours, retaliatory demotions, [terminations], pay decreases, job or shift reassignments, denial of leave, denial of promotions, and refusals to [reasonably accommodate].
Retaliation Under the Labor Code
California Labor Code § 98.6 prohibits retaliation against an employee for “the exercise by the employee … on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any right afforded him or her.” See Labor Code §98.6(a); Grinzi v. San Diego Hospice Corp. (2004) 120 Cal. App. 4th 72, 86-88. Included within these bundle of rights are [wage and hour] laws such as minimum and overtime wage regulations and rest and meal break allowances.