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How do you know if you faced illegal retaliation?

Not everyone has a job that they love. In fact, many California residents may dread going into work because they do not get along with their coworkers or employer. In some cases, clashing personalities or differences in views may lead to difficult work relationships, but in other cases, employees may feel that people intentionally mistreat them on the job.

Unfortunately, discrimination, harassment and retaliation can all happen in the workplace, and you may believe that you are experiencing illegal treatment. However, it is important to know that not every annoying or unfair action from a coworker or superior is illegal. Some unfair treatment may still fall under legal activity, even if you do not like it. Still, you may wonder whether what you are going through is against the law.

When is it retaliation?

If you believe that your employer is illegally retaliating against you, it may be wise for you to make sure you understand what constitutes as illegal retaliation. Some elements you may want to look for in your situation include the following:

  • You participated in a protected activity, such as opposing illegal discriminatory practices in the workplace or participating in an equal employment opportunity investigation.
  • You faced material adverse action from your employer, meaning actions to discourage you from participating in protected activities later. These actions could include demoting you, firing you, denying you a promotion or denying you other benefits.
  • The material adverse action occurred because you participated in a protected activity. This element can sometimes be difficult to prove, so records of any connection between the protected activity and adverse action could be useful.

Even if you believe that you could prove these elements, it is important to remember that your employer has the right to defend against any claims. As a result, you may want to ensure that you fully understand what you could face if you choose to pursue such a claim.

How can you prepare?

If you believe that you have faced illegal treatment in the workplace, you may want to prepare as best as possible. Gathering information and evidence relating to your claims and discussing your ordeal with an experienced employment law attorney could help you determine your best courses of action. A legal professional can assess your circumstances, help you understand whether grounds for a case exist and what steps you could take to address the matter.

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