Employees in our state have the right to work at a workplace free of discrimination. What some may not realize though, is that when an employee fights back against discrimination, California also protects them from retaliation. Indeed, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, through the Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit, enforces the prohibition on employer retaliation through 45 labor laws, including the Equal Pay Act.
The RCI is responsible for investigating workplace retaliation. Retaliation from exercising one’s anti-discrimination rights could include a reduction of hours or pay, disciplinary actions and threats of disciplinary actions (i.e., write-ups, warnings, etc.), demotion, unwanted transfers, suspensions and terminations, among many other potential retaliatory actions.
Filing a retaliation complaint
Anyone that has suffered retaliation can file a complaint with the RCI. This includes current employees, former employees and even, applicants that were not hired. Anyone that has a retaliation issue related to or affecting their working conditions in California has the right to speak with the RCI, and they may also avail themselves of their own, private attorney.
Up until September 30, 2021, there was a temporary deadline suspension for timely filing complaints. This was done through Executive Order N-08-21, Section 24(f). As such, complaints must now be filed within one year of the retaliatory act. There are two exemptions to this one-year rule though. Whistleblowers that relate to child day care licensing violations only have 90 days, and Equal Pay Act violations have two years. If the Equal Pay Act retaliation was willful though, the complaint must be filed within three years. Nonetheless, a private lawsuit may be filed, instead of filing a complaint with the RCI, even, sometimes, if these deadlines are missed.
In California, our worker protections apply to workers, regardless of immigration status. RCI will not question the employee’s immigration status, and the RCI also does not report that status to any other government agency. Indeed, if an employer tries to use one’s immigration status against them, this too could be retaliation for Pasadena, California, employers.