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Can my employer fire me for filing a wage claim?

It is illegal for an employer to terminate or retaliate against an employee because the employee filed a wage claim against them. Both federal and California laws protect employees from retaliation when they participate in “legally protected activities.” Exercising your legal rights by filing a wage and overtime claim is considered a legally protected activity.

Workers have the right to file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or to file a wage lawsuit in California or federal court, against an employer without fear of retaliation. When employers violate these rights and discriminate or retaliate against employees who have filed wage claims, workers can pursue retaliation or wrongful termination claims against the employer along with the original wage claim.

In order to establish a case of illegal retaliation, the employee must prove the employer’s harmful employment action toward them was motivated by their engaging in the protected activity of filing a wage claim. The harmful action must be a tangible one, such as termination, demotion or withholding a promotion.

If the employee can prove the above, then it is the employer’s responsibility to prove they had some other valid reason for taking the action against the employee. The employee then has to show the employer’s reason was just an excuse to cover up for the retaliation.

McCormack & Erlich is a San Francisco law firm serving all of Northern California and specializing in the field of employment law. We have extensive expertise in helping people who have been wrongfully terminated and retaliated against recover their damages.

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