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Sometimes things do not go smoothly in the workplace. California employees who feel their bosses or other workers are treating them unfairly may file a complaint, either with the bosses, with human resources or with an outside authority, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While some employers may learn from such a complaint and strive to make the workplace less hostile, others may use retaliation to make life very difficult for the employee who complained.

Retaliation for complaining about discrimination or participating in an investigation related to discriminatory actions is a serious violation of employment law. Retaliation can come in many forms, and it may be difficult to identify some behaviors as retaliatory. However, if an employee experiences negative changes in his or her terms of employment following a complaint about discrimination, it may be retaliation.

Some examples of retaliatory actions include reducing a worker’s pay, demoting an employee, transferring a worker to a less desirable position or location, or firing the employee who filed the complaint. An employer may also retaliate subtly, such as excluding the employee from certain communications or opportunities for training or advancement. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that co-workers do not act out of vengeance toward the worker who complained about discrimination.

Retaliation is a serious offense. Employers should be especially cautious to avoid negative actions against an employee who has been critical of the workplace environment. A California employee who feels his or her boss may be acting out of vengeance following allegations of discrimination would be wise to seek legal counsel before matters escalate.

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