Harassment Claims and Termination — What to Do If Your Employer Retaliates

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |
employee retaliation

One of the main reasons that workers feel hesitant in speaking with a workplace harassment attorney about harassment at their workplace is that their employer will take some kind of adverse action against them for bringing a harassment claim, including terminating them. Many people feel like they cannot endure the financial consequences of being fired. In fact, the reason harassment often occurs is because an employee feels he or she has limited employment options, and the employer takes advantage of this fear by violating state and federal laws regarding harassment.

Under federal and state law, however, an employer cannot terminate an employee as a result of filing a harassment claim or even taking steps to do so. If they do fire an employee on those grounds, this will be deemed “retaliation” by a court, and the employer will face stiff penalties. Furthermore, this retaliation can be the basis of a civil claim by the employee against the employer, above and beyond the harassment claim.

At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we represent employees exclusively. Our firm has been recognized as one of the region’s Best Law Firms by U.S. News & World Report. Our seasoned employment law attorneys have 140 years of combined experience. If you have been fired for a harassment claim, we can provide the professional level of representation you need to pursue a claim against your employer for retaliation and wrongful termination.

Unlawful Workplace Retaliation in California

Workplace retaliation is prohibited under state law when your employer is punishing you for protected activities, which include the following:

  • Refusing to take part in illegal conduct
  • Reporting illegal conduct
  • Reporting fraud
  • Filing a discrimination lawsuit
  • Filing a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner
  • Assisting other employees in filing lawsuits or complaints of illegal workplace activity
  • Complaining to a supervisor or other manager or owners about acts of discrimination or harassment in the workplace

Federal law also protects you from acts of retaliation when you file a harassment or discrimination claim at work or file a complaint with an agency such as the EEOC. Even if you decide to testify against your employer or cooperate in an EEOC investigation, your employer cannot lawfully retaliate against you in any way — including termination.

Being fired for filing a harassment claim is only one form of unlawful retaliation. Employers are prohibited from taking any kind of retaliatory action against employees for protected activities, including increasing an employee’s workload; reassigning the employee to new shifts and roles; reducing their pay; demoting them unfairly, or leaving them out of training activities and other opportunities offered to others working for the company.

Legal Remedies When You Have Been Fired for a Harassment Claim

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) specifically prohibits certain employment practices, as listed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Retaliation against anyone who has filed a complaint with DFEH opposed any activity prohibited under FEHA, or participated in a DFEH investigation is strictly prohibited under the Act.

Employees who believe they have been discriminated or retaliated against and wish to file a lawsuit in court must first obtain a “Right to Sue” notice from DFEH. Legal remedies, as listed by DFEH, may include:

  • Hiring
  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay
  • Cease and Desist orders
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Attorney fees and costs
  • Expert witness fees
  • Court-ordered punitive damages
  • Administrative fines

If you have been fired for filing a harassment claim, your employer has acted unlawfully. You have recourse under the law, and our experienced employment law attorneys at Sessions & Kimball LLP can assist you to file a claim for compensation. There are time limits that must be met to successfully file a wrongful termination claim. Contact our office as soon as possible to arrange for a free case consultation.