It is not unlawful to retaliate against an employee. It is unlawful only to retaliate against someone who has engaged in protected conduct. If the unfair treatment you complained about was based in unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation, then your complaint was protected conduct. If not, and instead your complaint was simply about unfair, unreasonable, rude or irrational treatment, it was not protected and you can lawfully be retaliated against for making the complaint, no matter how good your intentions.
it sounds like your HR department has a problem with what has happened. That is good. Some companies frown on retaliation of any kind in the workplace, even if it is not unlawful. Hopefully it will correct the problem. If not, I am afraid you have little legal recourse.
Good luck to you.
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I applaud you for doing the right thing. I hope you are not discouraged from doing so in the future by the shoddy treatment you received after that. I hope HR continues to pursue this and that justice will win out in the end.
If the reason the other supervisors gave bad reports on the workers is suspicious – perhaps the workers were all of a different race than the supervisors, or had another protected characteristic – you may be entitled to some legal protection as a whistleblower. For more information about whistleblowers and their rights, please see my Avvo guide: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/whistleblowers-and-their-rights?published=true
Short of that, there are various strategies for motivating HR to make sure you receive proper treatment. I urge you to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys with whom you can discuss the details of your situation because you need an assessment of the specific facts. Anyone can read the discussions on Avvo so they are not confidential. The employer or whomever is involved in the dispute can read everything written here.
That said, if there is not a lot of money at stake, it may not make sense to work with an attorney because, unless there is protected activity as referenced above and in Mr. Pedersen's answer, the attorney will most likely need to charge you on an hourly basis. Plaintiffs employment attorneys in California charge anywhere from $250 to $750 an hour depending on many factors including experience, area of law, geographic location, work load, interest in the case, difficulty of the case and more. You should expect to need at least three hours for this kind of consultation.
To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
@MikaSpencer * * * twitter.com/MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis.