Reveal Law

California Labor Code 132a: Safeguarding Workers’ Rights Against Discrimination

Title: California Labor Code 132a: Protecting Workers’ Rights in the WorkplaceIn today’s world, workplace discrimination remains a significant challenge for employees. However, the state of California has taken a proactive approach to protect workers’ rights by enacting the California Labor Code 132a.

This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of this labor code and its implications in workers’ compensation discrimination claims. By examining the prohibition against employer discrimination and the consequences of such actions, as well as the elements and types of workers’ compensation discrimination claims, readers will gain valuable knowledge to navigate potential challenges in their workplace.

California Labor Code 132a

Prohibition against employer discrimination

California Labor Code 132a strictly prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees with regard to their workers’ compensation benefits. Employers are legally bound to protect their workers’ rights and provide fair treatment.

This means that any adverse action taken against an employee due to their exercise of workers’ compensation benefits is prohibited. – Retaliation: Employers must not engage in any form of retaliation against employees who file for workers’ compensation benefits or those who have already received them.

– Workers’ Compensation Benefits: The Labor Code safeguards employees’ rights to receive benefits, ensuring that employers cannot interfere with an employee’s access to medical treatment or disability payments.

Consequences of employer discrimination

Employers who violate California Labor Code 132a can face severe consequences. It is essential to understand these consequences to protect your rights in case of any discrimination.

– Criminal Prosecution: Employer discrimination can lead to criminal charges, potentially resulting in a misdemeanor conviction for the employer. – Monetary Damages: Employers found guilty of discrimination may be required to pay monetary damages to employees who have suffered as a result.

– Lost Wages and Back Pay: An employee who has experienced discrimination may be entitled to lost wages and back pay for the period of discrimination. – Attorney Fees: The employer may have to cover the attorney fees incurred by the employee in pursuing a claim against them.

– Reinstatement: In some cases, if an employee has been wrongfully terminated or faced adverse actions, they may be entitled to reinstatement to their previous position. Workers’ Compensation Discrimination Claims

Elements of a workers’ compensation discrimination claim

To file a workers’ compensation discrimination claim successfully, certain elements must be present.

Understanding these elements can help individuals assess their situations and take appropriate action. – Filing a Claim: Employees should be able to demonstrate that they have filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or exercised their rights in some capacity.

– Discrimination: Employees must demonstrate that their employer took adverse actions against them solely due to their exercise of workers’ compensation benefits. – Lost Wages and Benefits: The employee should be able to prove that they suffered financial losses, such as lost wages or denied benefits, as a result of discrimination.

Types of workers’ compensation discrimination

Workers’ compensation discrimination is not limited to one specific type of adverse action; it can manifest in various ways within the workplace. Recognizing these types of discrimination can help employees identify potential violations.

– Adverse Actions: Employers may take actions such as wrongful termination, reduction of hours, changes in salary, or alteration of work duties to discriminate against employees seeking or receiving workers’ compensation benefits. – Wrongful Termination: Terminating an employee due to their exercise of workers’ compensation benefits is a clear violation of their rights.

– Reduction of Hours and Salary Changes: Employers may retaliate by reducing an employee’s hours or altering their salary unreasonably. – Work Duties: Employers may attempt to transfer employees to less favorable positions or assign them tasks beyond their capabilities to discourage the exercise of workers’ compensation benefits.

– Immigration Violations: Employers should not attempt to exploit an employee’s immigration status as a means to discriminate against or discourage accessing workers’ compensation benefits. Overall, California Labor Code 132a serves as a vital protection mechanism for employees facing potential discrimination at the hands of their employers.

By understanding the prohibition against employer discrimination and the consequences associated with these actions, individuals can assert their rights confidently. Likewise, comprehending the elements and types of workers’ compensation discrimination claims equips employees with the knowledge to navigate potential challenges and seek appropriate resolutions when needed.

Title: California Labor Code 132a: Protecting Workers’ Rights in the Workplace (Continued)

Establishing Employer’s Motive for Termination

Indirect evidence of termination motive

In some cases, it may be challenging to prove an employer’s direct motive for terminating an employee. However, indirect evidence can still be used to establish the employer’s underlying intent.

– Cover-up: Employers who attempt to conceal their true motive for termination by providing false reasons or manufacturing evidence can face significant consequences. This is considered a sign of wrongful termination and may be used as evidence of discriminatory intentions.

– Wrongful Termination: If an employee can demonstrate that their termination was unjustified or inconsistent with company policies, it can help establish a motive rooted in discrimination. – Disciplinary Action: In situations where an employer takes sudden disciplinary action against an employee who has recently filed for workers’ compensation benefits, it may suggest their motive was retaliatory rather than based on legitimate performance concerns.

Employer’s affirmative defense

Employers also have the opportunity to present an affirmative defense when faced with workers’ compensation discrimination claims. It is crucial to understand these defenses to effectively respond to them.

– Reasonable Business Necessity: Employers may argue that the adverse action taken against an employee was necessary for the legitimate and compelling needs of the business. However, employers must provide substantial evidence to support this claim.

– Unqualified Employee: An employer may assert that an employee who has filed for workers’ compensation benefits is unqualified for their position and that their adverse actions were justified on those grounds. – Risk of Re-Injury: Employers may argue that an employee poses a heightened risk of re-injury if they continue in their current role, justifying their adverse actions as necessary for workplace safety.

Again, the burden of proof falls on the employer to substantiate this defense.

Damages for Workers after 132a Claim

Types of damages available

Successfully pursuing a workers’ compensation discrimination claim under California Labor Code 132a can result in various types of damages awarded to the affected worker. – Increased Compensation: In addition to regular workers’ compensation benefits, employees who have experienced discrimination may be entitled to increased compensation, accounting for the mistreatment and emotional distress caused.

– Costs and Expenses: Employees may request reimbursement for any costs incurred while pursuing a workers’ compensation discrimination claim, including legal fees, medical bills, and related expenses. – Reimbursement: If an employee was wrongfully terminated or suffered financially due to the discriminatory actions of their employer, they may seek reimbursement for lost wages and other damages.

– Reinstatement: Successful workers’ compensation discrimination claims may lead to an order for the reinstatement of the employee to their former position. This remedy aims to restore the employee to their employment rights and benefits that were wrongfully taken away.

Serious and willful misconduct

Aside from the damages discussed above, employees may also be eligible for additional compensation if their employer is found guilty of serious and willful misconduct. – Intentional Actions:

Serious and willful misconduct refers to intentional acts or omissions by an employer that demonstrate a reckless disregard for the safety of their employees.

This can include failing to provide necessary safety equipment or refusing to fix known hazards. – Safety Hazards: If an employer’s willful misconduct leads to a workplace accident or injury, an injured employee may be entitled to increased workers’ compensation benefits above the normal limits to account for the employer’s negligence.

– Increased Workers’ Comp Benefits: The purpose of awarding additional benefits is to provide appropriate compensation for the negligence exhibited by the employer, thereby ensuring that employees receive fair restitution for their suffering.


Continued efforts to understand the intricacies of California Labor Code 132a and the implications it carries are crucial in safeguarding workers’ rights against discrimination. By recognizing the indirect evidence of termination motive and understanding an employer’s affirmative defense, employees can build stronger cases.

Additionally, having knowledge of the various types of damages available, as well as the potential for increased compensation in cases of serious and willful misconduct, empowers individuals seeking justice. By remaining informed, employees can assert their rights confidently and promote workplaces that prioritize fair treatment and respect for workers’ compensation benefits.

Title: California Labor Code 132a: Protecting Workers’ Rights in the Workplace (Continued)

Filing a Labor Code 132a Claim

Handling of the claim by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB)

When filing a workers’ compensation discrimination claim under California Labor Code 132a, it is essential to understand the process and the role played by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). – Petition: The process begins by filing a petition with the WCAB.

This petition should detail the specific discriminatory actions taken by the employer and the negative impact on the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits. – Time Limit: It is crucial to note that there is a limited timeframe for filing a 132a claim.

In California, the law grants employees one year from the date of the discriminatory action to file a petition with the WCAB. Failing to submit the claim within this time frame may result in its dismissal.

– WCAB Review: After the petition is filed, the WCAB will review the evidence and conduct a hearing, allowing both parties the opportunity to present their case. During this process, the employee must establish a nexus between their exercise of workers’ compensation benefits and the employer’s adverse actions.

– Reinstatement: If the WCAB determines that the employee has been subject to discrimination, they may order the employer to reinstate the employee to their previous position. Reinstatement aims to restore the employee to their employment rights and benefits, ensuring they are not further jeopardized due to discrimination.

– Increased Compensation and Reimbursement: In successful cases, the WCAB may award the employee increased compensation to account for the mistreatment they experienced. Additionally, the employee may receive reimbursement for any costs incurred during the process, such as legal fees, medical bills, or related expenses.

Misdemeanor charges and complaint process

In some instances, workers’ compensation discrimination may rise to the level of a misdemeanor charge. Understanding the complaint process and the role of relevant authorities is crucial in seeking justice.

– Division of Labor Standards Enforcement: The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is responsible for enforcing labor laws in California, including investigating complaints related to workers’ compensation discrimination. To initiate the complaint process, the employee should contact their local DLSE office, which will guide them through the necessary steps.

– Office of the Public Prosecutor: If the DLSE determines that there is sufficient evidence to support a criminal violation, the case may be referred to the office of the public prosecutor for further action. The prosecutor will evaluate the evidence and, if deemed appropriate, may file misdemeanor charges against the employer.

– Misdemeanor Violation: Being charged with a misdemeanor related to workers’ compensation discrimination carries serious legal consequences for the employer. If convicted, the employer may face fines, probation, and/or other penalties determined by the court.

These charges serve as a deterrent and demonstrate society’s commitment to protecting workers’ rights.


Filing a workers’ compensation discrimination claim under California Labor Code 132a requires a comprehensive understanding of the process and an awareness of the relevant authorities involved. By familiarizing oneself with the handling of the claim by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, individuals can navigate the process more effectively.

Furthermore, comprehending the potential for misdemeanor charges and the significance of the complaint process underscores the importance placed on preserving workers’ rights and holding employers accountable. Through a combination of legal channels, employees can advocate for fair treatment, seek appropriate remedies for discrimination, and contribute to fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being and upholds workers’ compensation benefits.

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