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What is an Adverse Employment Action California?

March 24, 2023 Legal Team

An adverse employment action in California is anything an employer does that negatively impacts an employee’s job, including the terms, conditions, or privileges. An adverse employment action in and of itself is not against the law as long as it is based on reasons that comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Types of Adverse Employment Actions

Employers can take various types of adverse employment actions against their employees. Some of the most common include:

  • Termination: When an employer ends employment, whether for cause or not.
  • Demotion: When an employee is moved to a lower position, often with a corresponding reduction in pay and/or responsibilities.
  • Suspension: An employee is temporarily removed from work, often without pay, usually as a disciplinary measure.
  • Performance improvement plans: This is a process in which an employer creates a plan to help an employee improve their performance. Failure to meet the plan’s requirements can lead to further adverse employment actions.
  • Salary reduction: An employer reduces an employee’s pay, often as a result of economic factors or poor performance.
  • Denial of promotion: An employee is not promoted due to their performance or qualifications.
  • Refusal to hire: This occurs when an employer does not hire a job applicant, often due to their qualifications or suitability for the position.

Other types of negative treatment can possibly be considered adverse employment actions under the law but are less drastic. For example, changing an employee’s schedule, increasing their level of supervision, transferring an employee to a less-desirable position, excluding them from team meetings, etc.

When Adverse Employment Actions are Prohibited by Law

Adverse employment actions can be the result of various reasons, such as poor performance, violation of company policies, or misconduct. However, adverse employment actions can also be unlawful if they are based on discriminatory factors such as an employee’s race, gender, religion, age, disability, or other protected characteristics. In such cases, employees may have legal grounds to pursue legal action against their employer for discrimination or retaliation.

California Laws that Protect Workers from Adverse Employment Action

California has several laws in place to protect workers from prohibited adverse employment actions. For example, employers must provide employees with a written explanation of the reasons for an adverse employment action, such as a demotion, suspension, discharge, or other disciplinary action. Employees must receive the explanation in writing within 30 days of the adverse action.

Furthermore, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Therefore, employers cannot take any adverse employment action against an employee based on these protected characteristics.

California employers must also follow the state’s Equal Pay Act, which requires them to provide equal pay to employees who perform substantially similar work and have the same skills and experience. Finally, California’s WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act requires certain employers to provide 60 days’ advance notice of mass layoffs or plant closings to give employees time to prepare and look for other job opportunities.

If you believe your employer has taken retaliatory or discriminatory adverse action against you, speak to an Orange County employment attorney.