When-Retaliatory-Workers-Comp-Harassment-is-Legally-Disability-Discrimination.jpg (2149×1159)Every employee in America and in most first world countries has the right to a hostility-free work environment. Even and especially if you get injured on the job.

Companies have had a bad history of harassing injured workers for either getting injured, filing a workers compensation claim, or both. Worse, because they often force employees to sign a non-filing agreement in order to receive workers comp, meaning you may not feel that there is any way to seek recourse for the targeted harassment you are now facing at work. However, workplace discrimination for temporary disability is a completely different issue, one you are still allowed to file on and we’re here to help you through this complicated and uncomfortable situation.

Retaliatory Harassment

If you have recently suffered an injury at work, then you likely already know what we’re talking about. Whether or not you have already accepted a compensation plan or if the company is still trying to talk you down, retaliatory harassment can start at any point after the injury, though a workplace looking to cover it’s behind may not start until after you sign the non-filing agreement. Retaliatory harassment comes in many forms ranging from begging you to come back to pressuring you to quit. Your employer may downplay your injury or start suggesting that you’re too clumsy to be competent. Many employees in this situation find themselves demoted without cause and derided in the workplace. However, the question is whether or not this harassment is legally recognizable. If so, you do have a way to get the fair treatment and compensation you deserve.

When Retaliation Becomes Legal Discrimination

Employers harass their injured employees with a wide variety of approaches and methods. Sometimes to force you to make a decision that benefits them and sometimes as their way of blaming the victim for an incident that makes them look bad and costs them money. These motivations often overlap and you may find yourself the subject of ridicule, offensive jokes, insulting names, and reduced responsibilities that have nothing to do with light duty on recovery. However, if any of these things clearly relate to your injury or form a pattern that relates to your injury, you could be suffering from more than just retaliatory harassment. At some point, your employer may cross the line from everyday nastiness into legally actionable discrimination.

A Workplace Injury is a Disability

What most recently injured employees don’t realize is that temporary disability is still legally a disability. Just because most jobs can’t fire or refuse to hire someone because they have a permanent limp, they also can’t discriminate against someone with a broken leg. Coworkers calling someone names for having a life-long stutter are just as liable for mocking a colleague for talking funny while recovering from major dental surgery. Along the same lines, if you are being targeted because of your injury, you are being discriminated against due to a current disability.

Temporary disability may also apply to other situations in which an employer may seek to terminate or demote an employee who is temporarily less physically capable than they would be otherwise. Pregnant women, for instance, are at a higher risk of discrimination in the workplace while gravid, along with people recovering from a medical procedure or who were injured in a non-work-related incident. Harassment for any of these conditions is discrimination for temporary disability and is legally actionable meaning that you have serious grounds to combat your employer in court even if you have already signed a non-filing agreement about another issue.

Keep Notes and Get a Lawyer

Like any harassment case, your best strategy to defend your case is meticulous notes and accounts from witnesses. If the harassment has come in email form, archived chats, or recorded voicemails, you’re in luck as these are hard-copy evidence. Of course, most workplace harassment is purely verbal or very circumstantial (like putting your coffee cup on a high shelf while you can’t reach). Take a note every time a snide remark, threat, name-calling, or discriminatory action occurs and work with coworker friends to be your witnesses should it come to a he-said, she-said.

If it does come to a lawsuit, you will want to seek out an experienced workplace discrimination end employee rights lawyer to help you navigate the murky waters between your compensation, the retaliatory disability discrimination, and how the two relate. Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we specialize in helping employees take on the unfair bullying tactics of their employers. Don’t let your employer take advantage of you because of your recent injury. If it has escalated to workplace discrimination of your temporary disability, you can insist on fair treatment in court if they won’t give it to you any other way. To find an employee rights lawyer, contact us today!

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986