California law prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who reports or opposes harassment or discrimination. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate or demote an employee for engaging in any of the following protected activities:

  • Making a complaint to a supervisor about an employee or supervisor discriminating against her or another employee

  • Threatening a supervisor that she is going to file a lawsuit or charge of discrimination against the employer

  • Participating in a company’s internal investigation and reporting discrimination or harassment

  • Requesting reasonable accommodations for a physical disability, mental disability or medical condition

  • Refusing to follow a supervisor’s order that the employee reasonably believes to be discriminatory or unlawful

In a retaliation case, an employee does not need to prove the conduct he or she reported or opposed is in fact unlawful to be protected from retaliation. Rather, the employee only needs to prove he or she had a reasonable and good faith belief the conduct was unlawful.

how do you prove you were retaliated against?

More than likely, a retaliation claim will be proved through circumstantial evidence, which may include:

  • Terminating the employee shortly after the employee engaged in the protected activity
  • Accusing the employee of poor performance in contradiction to the employee’s prior performance history
  • Igoring the employer's own internal policies to punish or terminate the employee
  • Inventing false or illogical reasons for the employee’s termination


  • All lost wages, income, earnings or salary you lost, and will lose in the future, as the result of the retaliatory conduct
  • Monetary compensation for your past and future mental suffering, inconvenience, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress
  • Punitive damages to deter your employer from engaging in similar conduct in the future