All about Labor Code 132a: How to fight back retaliation

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All about Labor Code 132a: How to fight back retaliation

Posted By Jennifer Barkati     November 25, 2022    

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What is Labor Code 132a as per California Law?


Labor Code 132a prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who advocate for workers' compensation benefits. If you've filed or you're planning to file a Worker's Compensation Claim, your employer has no right to take retaliatory action against you. 


If an employer retaliates, they may face criminal prosecution under state law for a misdemeanor. A workplace retaliation lawyer can represent you and introduce you to all the legal facets in such a situation.


What the Statute states: 

While we have explained in brief what the Labor Code 132a of California Labor Law says, here's what the Statute states in detail: 

"It is the declared policy of this state that there should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.


(1) Any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against any employee because he or she has filed or made known his or her intention to file a claim for compensation with his or her employer


(or)


or an application for adjudication, or because the employee has received a rating, award, or settlement, is guilty of a misdemeanor and the employee’s compensation shall be increased by one-half, but in no event more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), together with costs and expenses, not over two hundred fifty dollars ($250). 


Any such employee shall also be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer. 


(2) Any insurer that advises, directs, or threatens an insured under penalty of cancellation or a raise in the premium or for any other reason, to discharge an employee because he or she has filed or made known his or her intention to file a claim for compensation with his or her employer or an application for adjudication, 


(or)


because the employee has received a rating, award, or settlement, is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the increased compensation and costs provided in paragraph (1). 


(3) Any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against any employee because the employee testified 


(or)


made known his or her intentions to testify in another employee’s case before the appeals board, is guilty of a misdemeanor


(and)


the employee shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer. 


(4) Any insurer that advises, directs, or threatens an insured employer under penalty of cancellation 


(or)


a raise in the premium or for any other reason, to discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee because the employee testified or made known his 


(or)


her intention to testify in another employee’s case before the appeals board, is guilty of a misdemeanor. 


Proceedings for increased compensation as provided in paragraph (1), or for reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, are to be instituted by filing an appropriate petition with the appeals board, but these proceedings may not be commenced more than one year from the discriminatory act or date of termination of the employee. 


  • The appeals board is vested with full power, authority, and jurisdiction to try and determine finally all matters specified in this section subject only to judicial review, except that the appeals board shall have no jurisdiction to try and determine a misdemeanor charge. 

  • The appeals board may refer and any worker may complain of suspected violations of the criminal misdemeanor provisions of this section to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or directly to the office of the public prosecutor."

How to know if my employer retaliated against me?


Often, the employer doesn't say that they are firing the employee for filing workers' compensation claims. This is done to avoid any explanation and compensation for retaliatory action. 


The employer may offer another explanation as to why the employee was let go. In such a scenario, it may be a suspicion that the employer had no issues until the employee filed the claim.


As an employee, you now need to prove that you have lost wages and benefits as an employee. It should be evident that it is because of discrimination. After this, the burden shifts on the employer to provide a valid reason for the firing. 


This should be an affirmative defense and non-discriminatory ground.


The employer may also provide a defense that there was a business necessity to terminate the employee. 


For instance, if the employee cannot give their best effort at work after returning post-injury and is unfit for the role, there are grounds for termination.


Damages you can receive for filing a 132a claim: 


The California Labor Code 132(a) provides certain specific remedies for employees. These recoverable damages are as follows: 


  • Increased compensation by one-half, which can amount to $10,000. 
  • Reinstatement to the same designation
  • Reimbursement for lost wages
  • Reimbursement for work benefits
  • Costs and expenses (up to $250)

Steps to file a California Labor Code 132a claim: 


A worker's compensation discrimination claim is handled by the California Worker's Compensation Appeals Board. 


  • To claim reinstatement, compensation, or reimbursement, you must file a petition with the WCAB. Make sure you file the petition within a year of the discriminatory incident. 

While the board deals with issues of reinstatement and compensation, they are not responsible for determining the employer's guilt. Although, they can forward the issue to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or the Public Prosecutor's Office.


  • You can only file petition 132a if you have a pending Workers' Compensation Appeals Board case. 
  • After applying, when you're ready for the hearing, you need to file a declaration of readiness to proceed. 
  • After application, send the original petition to your WCAB office and copies to all the concerned parties and stakeholders. 
  • Here are the documents you need to submit alongside your form: 
  • Document Cover sheet
  • Document Separator sheet (for 132a labor code petition)
  • Petition for discrimination verification
  • Document Separator sheet (for service proof by mail) 
  • Proof of service by mail 
  • In case you need assistance, you can always reach out to Information and Assistance office or check the details on www.dwc.ca.gov 

Khanuja Law Firm to your rescue: 



Are you a victim of one such discriminatory action at your employer's hands? If yes, now is the time to act. All you have to do is book a free consultation with Khanuja Law Firm today, and you're all set. With an experienced California labor law attorney, you’ll take the right step toward getting the justice you deserve.

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