How to file a retaliation/discrimination complaint

Employees, former employees, or job applicants who have suffered retaliation or discrimination may file a retaliation complaint. The Labor Commissioner’s Office maintains a listing of California laws that specifically prohibits retaliation, discrimination, and pay inequity.

File a Retaliation and/or Equal Pay Act Claim

Workplace discrimination complaints based on race, color, ancestry, religion, age (40 and over), disability, medical condition, genetic information, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, military and veteran status, or national origin (including language restrictions), should be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Settlements and Determinations


A settlement is a formal agreement to resolve a complaint. The employer agrees to pay a certain amount and you agree to resolve the complaint. Your employer may offer to settle with you at any point within the process. If no settlement is reached, the investigation will continue.


The Labor Commissioner’s Office will send you a written determination by mail. If the determination finds that your employer retaliated against you, the Labor Commissioner’s Office can require your employer to:

  • Pay you for any wages lost when you were wrongfully terminated, demoted, or suspended
  • Pay penalties for each violation
  • Reinstate you at your former position
  • Delete any reference to the negative action in your personnel file
  • Cease engaging in future retaliation
  • Post a notice to other employers regarding the retaliation, penalties, and the agreement to refrain from retaliation in the future

Your employer has thirty days to comply with the determination. If the employer does not comply with the determination, and there is no settlement of your complaint, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will file a lawsuit to enforce the demand for relief. Relief may include back pay, reinstatement, interest on the back pay, penalties, and other relief.

A complainant who filed a claim arising under section 6310 and 6311 may appeal a dismissal to the Director of Industrial Relations. Or you can file a private lawsuit against your employer.

Other Resources

February 2024