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Can my employer fire me for filing a complaint?

You need to work to survive, but that does not give your boss the right to discriminate against or harass you.

If you experience harassment or discrimination at work, you have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, you may worry about losing your job when your employer finds out.


When a manager or supervisor takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity, California and federal antidiscrimination laws call it retaliation. Therefore, your boss cannot harass, demote, withhold pay or terminate you for filing a complaint, talking about filing a complaint or speaking to a legal professional about your rights under employment law.

Wrongful termination

Though your employer can fire you without explanation, you may be able to connect the dots and prove that it is likely related to your DFEH  or EEOC complaint. The following documentation can help support your claim:

  • Job performance evaluations
  • Timeline of events leading up to the termination
  • Written account of the termination event
  • Names, titles and roles of parties involved in your termination

Cruelty and perceived unfairness may not be enough to warrant a case against your boss. Details are essential, so be sure to document everything you can to hold your employer accountable in case of wrongful termination.

If you are facing retaliation or wrongful termination as a result of your discrimination and/or harassment claims, you deserve justice. Do not let scare tactics and intimidation keep you from doing the right thing to protect yourself, your co-workers and your employer’s future employees.


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