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Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. Retaliation can include any negative job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift assignment.

Federal law protects you, the employee, from retaliation when you report, to your boss or to an outside body like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), workplace discrimination or harassment. If you made the claim in good faith, you are protected even if the claim turns out to be untrue. The law also protects employees who cooperate in EEOC investigations as a whistleblower.



The law also protects employees who cooperate in EEOC investigations as a whistleblower. A whistleblower is an employee who discloses information that she/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, etc. Our experienced employment attorneys will help you determine if you qualify for whistleblower protection under California and/or federal law.


Under California Labor Code section 98.6, an employer is prohibited from “retaliating, discriminating, or taking adverse action against an employee or a prospective employee for exercising any right under the Labor Code, filing or participating in a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), whistleblowing, or participating in political activity or a civil suit against an employer, among other activities.” Additionally, an employer cannot retaliate against a worker who has made an oral or written complaint that he or she is owed unpaid wages.



Claims for retaliation and whistle blowing are often brought at the same time, as they can be closely connected, but they are two distinct claims. Retaliation is when your employer takes an adverse action against you because you engaged in a protected activity, like filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or reporting workplace discrimination to your supervisor. Whistle blowing is when you report your employer’s illegal activities to the government or law enforcement.



Your remedies, or what you are able to recover from your employer for retaliating against you, will vary depending on the law your employer violated. On your behalf and depending on the circumstances of your case, our experienced employment attorneys will seek:

  • Reinstatement of your old job
  • Back pay, or the wages you didn’t earn because of the retaliation;
  • Double the amount of any back-pay award (sometimes called “liquidated damages”);
  • Front pay, or an amount that’s meant to pay you for future wages you won’t earn because of the retaliation;
  • Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the employer and persuade it not to retaliate in the future;
  • Your attorney’s fees.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you have taken the risk to report discrimination, harassment, unfair wages, or another type of illegal behavior in the workplace and you believe your employer has retaliated against you, reach out to Hardin Law Group today. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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