What is an adverse employment action for retaliation claim?

Frank S. Clowney III

It is sometimes difficult to prove when companies in California are breaking the law. There may be instances of sexual harassment, discrimination, violations of environmental laws, regulatory laws and other types of illegal actions.

Many times to prove the wrongdoing, employees within the company need to come forward to report what they know. However, this can be a difficult decision for employees who fear retaliation from their employer.

Employees are protected against retaliation for reporting violations of the law or for participating in investigations of illegal activity. If the employer retaliates against an employee through an adverse employment action, the employee may have a retaliation claim against the employer.

The most obvious adverse employment action is to fire the employee, but some of the other forms of retaliation may be less blatant.

Examples of adverse employment actions

Some examples of adverse employment actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Placing employees on administrative leave, suspensions or layoffs
  • Denying promotions and the opportunities to take various tests to qualify for promotions
  • Denial of transfers or job opportunities needed to build job experience
  • Reduction in pay
  • Poor job performance reviews which are not based on the actual work performance
  • Removing job responsibilities or a transfer to different less desirable job responsibilities
  • Negative job references

If employees in California experience these types of adverse employment actions after reporting illegal activity or participating in an investigation, they may be entitled to compensation.

The type of compensation they receive depends on the damages they experience as a result of the retaliation. The compensation could include reinstatement to a position, a promotion, back pay and other types of compensation. Experienced attorneys understand the evidence needed to prove these claims and may be able to guide one through the process.