As an employee, you probably know that there are various laws and institutions that protect employees from any form of discrimination or harassment. Sometimes you may notice an illegal activity going on within a company, and when you report such an issue, your employer will sometimes retaliate against you by denying your benefits or worse will terminate your job contract. Retaliation is prohibited, and some employees just walk away from it; they don’t know that they’re also protected from retaliation by an employer and considered as a form of discrimination.
What Exactly Is Retaliation?
Retaliation Defined. Retaliation means any adverse action that you or someone who works for you takes against an employee because he or she complained about harassment or discrimination. Any unwanted response that would deter a reasonable employee in the same situation from making a complaint qualifies as retaliation.
Retaliation can be in the form of salary reduction, demotion, firing, or any other adverse action that will affect the employee in a negative way.
Workplace Retaliation – When Is It Prohibited?
Under federal law, employers cannot retaliate against their employees just because they file a complaint against them even if it’s a lawsuit provided they’re within the legal jurisdiction. Employees have the right to report any form of discrimination or illegal activity either to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), and the employer doesn’t have the right to retaliate against them.
Employer Retaliation – How To Know If You Are A Victim
Most of the time, when you file a complaint about your employer, he’ll do all he can to take revenge. Most of the time, these employers know that if they retaliate against you, they will face some consequences. Therefore they will try to retaliate against you smartly in the sense that you will not have any evidence to prove retaliation. On the other hand, some employees know that their employer is retaliating against them, but still, they remain silent.
The moment you notice something negative happening on your job and benefits are affected after making a complaint, you know that your employer has retaliated against you. It is time to keep your eyes open. For instance, if you’re a player and your boss just removed you from the team immediately after complaining about sexual harassment, that should be considered as discrimination even though he did not fire you from the job completely. Examples of retaliation are when your employer gives you a poor performance review and when it comes to salary raises, your employer offers an increase to everyone except you.
Workplace Retaliation – What Do You Do When Your Employer Retaliates Against You?
If you start noticing some behaviors from your employer that make it appear that he is retaliating against you for filing a complaint, the first thing to do is talk to a human resources representative or your supervisor to get an explanation as to the cause of the negative behavior. Since you know that you perform your duty just like everyone, you should ask different questions to see if they can justify their reasons for the harmful act.
If it’s a form of retaliation, they won’t come up with a legitimate answer, and if you express your concern that you’ve been retaliated against, the employer will still deny it. Try and reason with your employer and see if he can fix the problem, if not, tell him that you’re going to take legal action. If you’ve spoken with your lawyer, let your employer know before you proceed with filing your case in the court. Most employers don’t want to deal with legal issues, and at this time, he will take you seriously and will try to fix the problem without legal action.
Lawsuit to Settle the Dispute
If your employer isn’t co-operating, you should gather all the possible evidence you can get and move on with filing a lawsuit against him. You should find an experienced lawyer who’s good at dealing with employment problems in the workplace.
If you file a lawsuit for retaliation, you’ll have to prove three things:
- You engaged in a protected activity.
- Your employer took action against you.
- There is a causal link between your activity and your employer’s action (in other words, your employer took action against you because of your business).
Here at Massey & Duffy, we specialize in dealing with employment problems that happen in the workplace. If there is a dispute between you and your employer that needs resolution, give us a call now for a free consultation.