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Percent of Retaliation Charges Filed w/ EEOC in 2014 Highest Ever

Keeping up with the trend of the last decade, retaliation charges continued to grow. In 2014, although workers filed the lowest number of discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the actual percent of charges that were retaliation-based were 42.8% which was the highest ever on record. Race discrimination came in second, and sexual discrimination followed in third. After those top three, disability, age, national origin and religion discrimination, respectively, completed the list. Not surprising, California was third among all states with 6,363 charges filed with the EEOC.

Under Title VII, retaliation charges require that workers prove that their employer would not have taken action against them were it not for an improper motive (also called the “but for” standard). In other words, workers must show that the alleged retaliatory action would not have occurred had the employer not had an unlawful motive.

In California, retaliation claims are brought under Labor Code 1102.5. Accordingly, it is illegal for California employers to retaliate against any employee who provides information to a government or law enforcement agency and has reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal statute, rule or regulation.

Notably, half of the EEOC’s total recoveries from 2014 ($144.6 Million) resulted from its almost 8,000 mediation resolutions. The trend is for companies to avoid costly litigation by paying settlement amounts during the alternative dispute resolution phase (mediation) to avoid the negative public impact. Another part of the reason for early-settlement is that during litigation, public information that the company wants to keep private is aired out to the public, often exposing the company to related future claims.

Under some Labor Code sections, workers have only six (6) months from the occurrence of the retaliatory action to file a complaint.  However, discrimination based on age, sex, race, national origin, physical or mental condition, etc., is covered under Gov. Code 12940, et seq with a one year time period to file from the last act of like-kind discrimination or retaliation.  There are several exceptions to the tight filing deadlines. One exception is if the worker was a victim of domestic violence (1 year), and another exception is if the victim was discriminated against based on payment of wages on the basis of sex (2 years).

The remedies available for retaliation include reinstatement of employment, reversal of a demotion, back wages, reinstatement of benefits, or the posting of a public notice in the workplace. But you must act swiftly or you may miss out on the court filing deadline which can be as early as six months. If you believe that you experienced retaliation for a protected lawful activity such as reporting discrimination to a government or law enforcement agency, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates to discuss your legal options. See these blogs for additional forms of discrimination.