Law Offices of Lauren Abrams blog

Department of Labor highlights retaliation concerns

If you're a worker and your employer is doing something wrong, it's your right to complain or report them without retaliation. That's the law at its core: a fundamental principle to protect workers and to keep a balance of power between employers and employees.

Unfortunately, some bosses either don't know the law or they let their personal emotions get the better of them. Retaliation complaints are on the rise in recent years, even though it's completely illegal. Most employers either assume that workers don't know their rights or that they won't care.

Common complaints that prelude employer retaliation include:

  • Requesting back wages or unpaid overtime
  • Filing a discrimination or harassment claim
  • Safety or regulatory violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) says retaliation against immigrant employees is especially common because of uncertain legal status, language barriers and fear of losing their jobs. When the DOL investigates a retaliation claim, they don't look into immigration status as an official policy, meaning it's safe for a worker to speak up regardless of immigration status.

What happens to a business that retaliates?

If a business is in violation of the law, the DOL will press charges that result in penalties for the business and compensation for the victimized employees. With back pay issues, this means a fine is levied to the business, owned payment is distributed to the workers and extra payment is award to employees for the misdeed.

Companies can also reach a settlement out of court.

If it's happening to you

Fair treatment at work is an American virtue that spans our entire culture. When something is unfair, it needs to be reported and corrected. Whistle blowing is a right, and being punished for speaking out is unacceptable.

If you've reported something and your employer responds in anger -- through reprimand, demotion or firing, or harassment -- it's your right as a worker in California and the government and DOL are behind you. Working with an employment attorney you can solidify your case to keep your job and to make sure that you and your co-workers get the respect you deserve.

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