California is a state that takes labor violations very seriously — far more than many other states. It provides protections for workers that just don't exist in other areas of the country.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is where to file complaints of workplace discrimination based on:
- Marital status
- Age (40+)
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
Our state has its own Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit (RCI). The unit is under the auspices of the state Labor Commissioner, which is a subset of the Department of Industrial Relations.
Purpose of the RCI Unit
After an incidence of harassment or discrimination is reported by an employee, the whistleblowing employee (or even corroborating witnesses) may be subject to retaliation from the employer, supervisor, co-workers or others.
Under California law, both workers and job applicants are free to exercise their labor rights without a fear of discrimination or retaliatory actions. The Labor Commissioner's Office is responsible for the enforcement of over 45 labor laws prohibiting discriminatory and retaliatory acts. These laws also include any violations of the state's Equal Pay Act.
What does the RCI Unit investigate?
The RCI investigators look into allegations related to the demotion, transfer, suspension or termination of employees. A sudden, otherwise inexplicable reduction of hours or wages would also be investigated by the unit, as would any threats or unwarranted disciplinary actions.
Often, it may be undocumented immigrants or their counterparts with green cards who are targeted for retaliation. The investigators review unfair immigration-related practices. They also investigate pay inequities based on ethnicity, sex and race.
Steps you can take
Experiencing retaliation after reporting incidents of either discrimination or retaliation is literally adding insult to injury. The RCI Unit may be able to help you achieve justice after retaliatory actions further marginalized you in the workplace setting.
But you also have other options that include retaining a Calabasas employment law attorney who can help you find a path to civil justice after you have experienced harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
No one is above the law, but sometimes, justice must be won.