Workplace Retaliation in California: What is an ‘Undesirable Task’?

By: JML Law | April 26, 2023.
Workplace Retaliation in California: What is an ‘Undesirable Task’?

If you’re an employee in California, you have a legal right to engage in such activities as:

  • Filing complaints regarding harassment, discrimination, etc.
  • Reporting an unsafe workplace to regulatory agencies
  • Cooperating with investigators looking into crimes or violations your employer may be guilty of

Those are just a few examples. In California, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for engaging in these types of actions.

That’s not to say all employers obey the law. There are various ways an employer may mistreat you if they’re angry that you have filed an official complaint about workplace misconduct or otherwise drawn attention to their misbehavior.

One way an employer may illegally retaliate against you involves assigning undesirable hours or tasks to you. Although you can theoretically take legal action against an employer for retaliation, in these circumstances, proving that retaliation happened may be a challenge. You need to demonstrate that the nature of the tasks that were assigned to you is unpleasant enough that any reasonable person would understand your employer is punishing you by assigning them.

Examples of tasks that could possibly meet the necessary criteria include the following:

  • Perhaps you were a rising star at the company, often working on the types of projects that gave you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills. After filing a complaint or cooperating with an investigation, your employer is modifying your job responsibilities, forcing you to devote your time to monotonous tasks that don’t challenge you and don’t give you the chance to show why you may deserve a promotion.
  • Unless you were already expected to work such shifts, if your employer suddenly decided to begin assigning more frequent weekend and night shifts, it could be argued that they are doing so in an act of retaliation. This is particularly true if these shifts interfere with your other life responsibilities, such as caring for your children.
  • Your employer may be retaliating against you if they have substantially increased your workload without any indication that your pay will increase accordingly.
  • Depending on the nature of your workplace, you may be assigned tasks that put you in physical danger or are significantly physically demanding.
  • Perhaps the tasks your employer is assigning to you represent a lack of respect for your abilities. Maybe, before engaging in a legal activity like reporting unsafe workplace conditions, you were assigned tasks that involved managing others, contributing ideas, etc. Now, maybe your employer asks you to run day-to-day errands.

Those are just a few examples. The main point to understand is that building a case against an employer in these circumstances can require thoroughly showing that there is a major discrepancy between the tasks or hours you were accustomed to before an employer retaliated against you and the tasks they now typically assign.

One way to improve your chances of presenting an effective case is to enlist the help of an attorney. At JML Law, a Long Beach workplace retaliation attorney can help you gather evidence showing your employer has broken the law. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at 818-610-8800.

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