Coyle Browne Law


California Labor Code section 230(e): Retaliatory Discharge

California, like many states in the U.S., has legal safeguards to protect employees from punitive actions. One crucial area of concern lies within retaliatory discharge. It’s important to understand your rights and what retaliatory discharge is so you can ensure you are being treated fairly and legally.

What is Retaliatory Discharge in General?

Retaliatory discharge refers to the wrongful termination of an employee as an act of retaliation by their employer. It occurs when an employer fires or takes adverse action against an employee in response to protected activity on the part of the employee:

Protected activities can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Reporting illegal or unethical behavior: If an employee exposes illegal activities, fraud, discrimination, harassment, or other wrongdoing within their workplace and subsequently faces termination in response, this is considered illegal retaliation.
  2. Filing a complaint: Employees who file formal complaints such as discrimination claims with regulatory bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are protected from retaliation under various employment laws.
  3. Exercising legal rights: When employees assert their lawful rights such as taking medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), requesting reasonable accommodations for disabilities under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), whistleblowing on matters affecting public safety, or engaging in union-related activities, they are protected from being retaliated against.

What is Retaliatory Discharge under California Labor Code section 230(e)?

In California, specific provisions have been crafted to support employees who are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This is brought into effect through California Labor Code Section 230(e) which forms part of the Survivors of Domestic Violence Employment Leave Act: 

An employer shall not discharge or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee because of the employee’s status as a victim of crime or abuse, if the employee provides notice to the employer of the status or the employer has actual knowledge of the status.”

Here’s what you’re entitled to under this section: 

  • Protected Time Off: As a survivor under this act, you are entitled to take time off from your job for specific purposes related to dealing with incidents of abuse.
  • Testify in Court as a Witness: The provision allows you to take a breather from work so that you can appear in court during official proceedings.

Self-Care Purposes: It considers emotional wellbeing to be a crucial aspect of recovery, giving you the right to take time off to seek counseling and other types of treatment.

These legislative efforts provide victims with necessary tools to manage the aftermath of such a personal crisis. 

What To Do If You Believe You’ve Been Discharged in Retaliation

Believing you’ve been discharged in retaliation can feel frustrating, confusing, and unjust. If you find yourself in this situation, here are steps you need to take:

  1. Keep Detailed Records: Ensure that all communication related to your dismissal is documented. Emails, letters, or any other correspondence could serve as evidence down the line.
  2. Document Potential Evidence of Retaliation: In addition to records about your dismissal itself, collect any kind of ‘before-and-after’ evidence showing a change in employer’s attitude following protected activity. Also obtain any employment records showing that you were in good standing and hadn’t been disciplined before.
  3. Consult HR Department: If your company has a Human Resources department, contact them as soon as you can if you feel comfortable doing so. They may be able to investigate the issue and offer a resolution within the organization.
  4. Contact an Employment Attorney: Even if you speak with HR, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. This is the best way to ensure that all your rights are protected.

If you believe you have experienced retaliatory discharge from your job following any of these protected activities, it is highly advisable to speak to a qualified attorney specializing in labor employment law. For help, contact our employment law attorneys in San Diego to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys at Browne Employment Lawyers 

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