The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits any type of workplace harassment and discrimination of employees based on race, religion or sex. Under California law, employees have the right to report any kind of discrimination, harassment or illegal employment actions of their employer. An employer must not retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights under the law to report any illegal activity to a government agency, company human resource department or supervisor.
Under California Labor Code Section 1102.5, an employee can sue their employer for retaliation if the following elements are met:
- The employee engaged in a protected activity of reporting their employer’s discrimination and/or harassment activity to an appropriate government agency, the company’s human resources department or supervisor.
- The employer subsequently retaliated against the employee through a demotion, termination, or other adverse employment action.
- The two events listed above are related.
If a business in California knows that an employee has filed a report of discrimination or harassment to a government agency, they should take an abundance of caution in executing any adverse or negative employment action against that employee. Even if there is a warranted and legitimate business reason for the adverse employment action, it may be best to wait until the employee’s report is resolved to avoid any appearance of impropriety or consult an employment attorney right away.
Personal Liability in California
Employers, supervisors, and managers may now face personal liability for any retaliation against an employee who has filed a harassment or discrimination complaint. Under the SB-1038 California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers, managers or supervisors may face “…personal liability on specified employees for certain actions in connection with violating the prohibition against discharging or discrimination against a person who has opposed any practices prohibited by these provisions or has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding for a violation.” This law seems to strictly enforce that any adverse retaliation measures made against employees who have spoken up regarding any type of discrimination or harassment claim are illegal.
Experienced Employment Attorneys in Santa Ana
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) now requires any employer with five or more employees to create and develop harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policies. If you are a business in California, contacting an experienced business attorney can be beneficial to ensure that your rights as an employer are protected. Additionally, a business attorney can help you create your legally binding human resources policies and attempt to insulate you from litigation regarding any retaliation lawsuits from employees who have filed harassment and discrimination complaints.