Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger
Retaliation Defense

Count On Our Team to Protect Your Interests

Modesto Retaliation Defense Attorneys

Defending California Businesses in Retaliation Lawsuits

Federal and state laws offer employees protection from retaliation in the workplace. An employee who is subject to one or more adverse actions after engaging in a legally protected activity can hold their employer accountable and recover compensation. 

Our Modesto retaliation defense lawyers understand the damaging impact that a retaliation claim can potentially have on the operations and reputation of a business. At Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger, we work with employers to develop strong retaliation defense strategies. We can also help implement policies and procedures designed to guard against future retaliation allegations.

With years of experience working with all types of employers, our legal professionals are well-suited to provide the skilled representation you need to prevail against these claims. We are a small firm with a proven track record of securing large firm results.  

Whether your business has already been accused of retaliation or you are looking for advice on how to handle a challenging situation, our firm is ready to assist you. Call (209) 340-1110 or contact us online today.

What Is Workplace Retaliation?

Though California is an “at-will” employment state, your business cannot terminate employees on certain grounds. Employers cannot fire or take adverse action because an employee participated in a “protected activity.”

Examples of protected activities include:

  • Complaining about discrimination, harassment, unpaid wages, working conditions, terms of employment, or any possibly unlawful conduct
  • Refusing to complete a task that an employee believes is discriminatory, unsafe, or unlawful
  • Participating in an employer’s or government agency’s investigation
  • Participating in a lawsuit involving your company
  • Requesting reasonable accommodations for disabilities or religious beliefs
  • Requesting or taking protected leave

Whenever an employee engages in one of these protected activities, your business may be vulnerable to a retaliation claim if you take adverse action against the protected employee. This is not to say that you are prohibited from taking an adverse action if there is justification to do so. However, the protected employee will likely believe they are being unfairly punished and may pursue a retaliation claim, even if the complaint is unfounded. 

Examples of adverse actions include:

  • Terminating an employee
  • Demoting an employee
  • Reducing an employee’s pay
  • Relocating an employee to a less convenient location
  • Giving an employee less-desirable tasks or hours
  • Giving an employee an unjustified performance review
  • Isolating an employee
  • Hostile behavior directed toward an employee

A business’s conduct may be considered retaliatory even if it was not intended to harm an employee. For example, if an employee complains their supervisor is discriminating against them, a business might transfer the employee to another location. Though the intent was to protect the employee from further discrimination, the employee may file a retaliation complaint if they did not want to be transferred and preferred their original location.

Your company’s employee handbook should ideally include a policy that forbids retaliation. If an employee does make a complaint or participates in any other protected activity, reaffirm your commitment against retaliation but be extremely cautious when taking any adverse action against the employee. 

Remember, you can lawfully fire or demote an employee if you have a separate, defensible reason for doing so. However, it is in your best interest to get legal advice from our Modesto retaliation defense attorneys before moving forward. We will carefully evaluate the situation and advise whether taking your preferred course of action exposes your company to liability. 

Responding to Retaliation Allegations

If an employee believes they have been retaliated against, they may file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The applicable agency will notify you and investigate the claim. 

The government may attempt to mediate a settlement between you and the claimant. The employee may also request permission to sue and file their own private lawsuit. 


Protect Your Reputation

In either scenario, our Modesto retaliation defense lawyers will work to protect your business’ reputation and fight to refute unfounded allegations. We handle all types of workplace retaliation claims and can help you set up a plan of action for the future. 

Our team at Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger understands what is at stake. Call (209) 340-1110 or contact us online to discuss your case with us.

“This firm exemplifies how a multi-faceted group of attorneys can work together to achieve positive results.”

- James M.
Case Results

We fight tirelessly to make sure we gain the best possible results for our clients.

  • Broadside Motor Vehicle Accident

    Recovered the policy limits when client was broadsided in an intersection.

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  • Business Dispute

    Recovered $3,300,000 in buy-out and settlement of minority business owners in breach of fiduciary duty obligations of entity management action.

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  • Business Dispute

    Recovered $1,200,000 in income producing property in family business dispute action alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary against majority owner family members wherein all income payments and distributions to client had ceased for multiple years.

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  • Car Accident

    $8,500,000 recovery. Client was rear-ended on the freeway and suffered catastrophic injuries.

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  • Dog Bite

    Plaintiff was bitten on the hand by his employer’s dog.

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