“To establish a case of retaliation, ‘the plaintiff must show that he
- engaged in a protected activity,
- his employer subjected him to adverse employment action, and
- there is a causal link between the protected activity and the employer’s action.’ “
“The employment action must be both detrimental and substantial and involve material changes in the terms of employment to cause employment injury.
Examples of circumstances in which the employee had a cause of action for wrongful termination based on retaliation include:
- Complaining to management about its practice of overcharging and defrauding customers. (plaintiff complained about and refused to implement fraudulent billing practices).Haney v Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc. (2004) 121 CA4th 623, 643, 17 CR3d 336
- Coworker violations of building laws. (building inspector fired after reporting coworkers’ violations of laws on, e.g., issuance of building permits)Parada v City of Colton (1994) 24 CA4th 356, 365, 29 CR2d 309 .
- Employer overbilling government. (manager terminated after reporting to his boss the company’s unlawful overbilling of government) Holmes v General Dynamics Corp. .(1993) 17 CA4th 1418, 1434, 22 CR2d 172
- Employer discriminating. (personnel manager fired after reporting to senior executives the company’s discrimination against women and non-Japanese employees)Blom v N.G.K. Spark Plugs (U.S.A.), Inc. (1992) 3 CA4th 382, 389, 4 CR2d 139 .
- Manager’s complicity in illegal practices. (state investigator fired after reporting to management apparent complicity of department’s director in illegal practices).Shoemaker v Myers (1992) 2 CA4th 1407, 1420, 4 CR2d 203
- Unlawful treatment of suspected shoplifters. (senior executive terminated for protesting company’s unlawful policy of strip searching suspected shoplifters). Hejmadi v AMFAC, Inc. (1988) 202 CA3d 525, 540, 249 CR 5
“The retaliatory motive is ‘proved by showing that plaintiff engaged in protected activities, that his employer was aware of the protected activities, and that the adverse action followed within a relatively short time thereafter.’ ‘The causal link may be established by an inference derived from circumstantial evidence, “such as the employer’s knowledge that the [employee] engaged in protected activities and the proximity in time between the protected action and allegedly retaliatory employment decision [citation].” ‘ ” (Fisher v. San Pedro Peninsula Hospital (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 590, 615 [262 Cal.Rptr. 842], internal citations omitted.)
An employee need not prove an actual violation of law for a retaliation claim; it suffices to support a wrongful termination claim if the employer fired him for reporting his ‘reasonably based suspicions’ of illegal activity. Green v Ralee Eng’g Co. (1998) 19 C4th 66, 87, 78 CR2d 16; see Collier v Superior Court (1991) 228 CA3d 1117, 1127, 279 CR 453
If you believe you were fired at work and retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity, please fill out a case evaluation form to the right to speak to a lawyer specializing in defending employees who were retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity.