On-the-Job Retaliation & Violation Complaints Rising in California: Is Mediation the Answer?

on-the-job-complaintsOn-the-job retaliation and violation complaints from workers are on the rise in California, starting with safety complaints from a McDonald’s in Los Angeles – and for those workers who feel wronged, seeking out a mediator may be the smoothest solution.

The shift started in June 2020 when Lizzet Aguilar, a McDonald’s employee in Los Angeles, filed three safety complaints with the state and county alleging that workers were forced to work without masks. The complaints also mentioned how managers allegedly failed to notify workers when they were exposed to the virus. Following a wave of strikes over the summer, Aguilar and her three coworkers were terminated – sparking a broader discussion about workplace retaliation restrictions. 


Overview of the Issue

As employees become more aware of their rights, they’re filing more claims alleging employers have retaliated when they engage in legally-protected activities. 

For a bit of context, claims of on-the-job violations with California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office have risen 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with workers filing more complaints related to issues including overtime pay, wage theft, and discrimination. When employees file these complaints, some have alleged that employers retaliate with actions such as firing, cutting hours, or other forms of discipline. 

In California, retaliation is banned for a range of workplace complaints – but proving it can be difficult for workers. Currently, the burden is on employees to show how their employer’s actions were directly retaliatory. 


Employees Experiencing Retaliation: How a Mediator Can Help

For both employees and employers alike, mediation can be a tool and alternative for the pursuit and defense of retaliation claims in court.  Of course, both employees and employers should consult with and seek advice from their attorney/litigation counsel to determine if mediation is a potentially viable option and who the mediator should be.  

As a neutral third party, a mediator such as myself has no stake in the situation, and can provide guidance to find a resolution.

A mediator can first work to understand the full context and timeline of events from both the employee’s and the employer’s perspectives.  

Furthermore, a mediator can serve as an intermediary to open up direct communication between the employee and employer. 

If discussions hit an impasse, the mediator can suggest potential compromises and identify solutions that address both the employee’s and the employer’s core interests and restore a respectful working relationship.

While not all cases end in agreement, an experienced mediator gives both parties the opportunity to resolve their difference outside of court or a litigated situation.  They work to understand the situation fully, facilitate direct dialogue, and craft equitable solutions aimed at moving forward. 


Experienced Employment & Title IX Mediator & ADR Professional

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment, labor law & Title IX mediator and alternative dispute resolution professional.  Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal, and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Signature Resolution, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation and resolution of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, fraternities, and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram @iamangelareddockwright, LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/angelareddock, and tune in to my weekly radio show, KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11 am PST, or catch past episodes on Anchor.fm/Spotify.   You can learn more about the radio show here – https://angelareddock-wright.com/radio-show/.




Also, learn more about my book – The Workplace Transformed: 7 Crucial Lessons from the Global Pandemic – here: https://angelareddock-wright.com/book/.

For media inquiries, please reach out to monty@kwsmdigital.com.

For more information regarding resources mediation and dispute resolution resources for both employees and employers, connect with Angela on LinkedIn for new updates or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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