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Filing a retaliation claim in California

California workers who believe they have a retaliation claim against their employer may feel confused about where to begin. Labor laws in California protect all workers, regardless of immigration status, and are designed to protect the privacy of workers who want to file.

Before filing, make sure your claim is timely. Retaliation claims in California must be filed within 1 year of the retaliatory act by the employer. Two exceptions to this rule are claims involving child day care licensing complaints, which must be filed within 90 days, or Equal Pay Act violations, which must be filed in 2 or 3 years, depending on the circumstances.

Documentation is important

After you’ve determined that you are within the appropriate time limit to file a claim, collect all information relevant to your retaliation claim. This typically includes documents such as workplace performance reviews, pay stubs, or any notes or records related to your employment.

Once your documentation is ready, a retaliation complaint can be filed online or through the mail. Your supporting documents must be included with the complaint. The complaint will be reviewed by the Retaliation Complaint Investigation unit, who will determine whether to investigate your claim.

During an investigation, the unit could interview you and anyone from your former employer they feel is relevant to your claim. This could include supervisors or other employees. They may also request additional documents to help with analyzing your claim. A hearing will then be scheduled on your claim. At the hearing, you and your employer will be able to present your respective cases through testimony, witnesses or documents.

Prior to or after a hearing, you and your employer may reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Terms normally include your employer agreeing to pay you a sum of money in exchange for a resolution of the retaliation claim. If a settlement is not reached, a written determination on your claim will be sent to you sometime after the hearing.

If the determination find that your employer has engaged in retaliation, they may be ordered to do pay you lost wages or reinstate your employment. The order may require your employer to not engage in further retaliation or to remove any negative information about you and references to the claim from your human resources file.

The workplace retaliation claim process can be overwhelming, particularly if you are already dealing with unemployment or financial issues due to lack of work. Fortunately, there are helpful resources available.