If you are like most people, you probably understand that there are laws protecting you as an employee from harassment and discrimination. You might not know that the law also protects you from retaliation from your employer. The anti-retaliation laws protect you from your employer punishing you for complaining about discrimination or harassment in the workplace and from cooperating in workplace discrimination investigations. An employer’s punishment includes firing, demotion and any other negative employment action in which the employer might engage. At Swidler Swartz, our attorneys are experienced in helping our clients with their retaliation cases.
Retaliation is when an employer engages in a negative employment action against an employee in response to the employee’s engaging in activity that is legally protected. Retaliation may include any of the following actions:
- Denial of raises
- Failure to consider the employee for other positions
- Withholding training opportunities
There are many other examples of retaliation. If your employer has engaged in any retaliatory action against you for filing a complaint or for participating in a workplace investigation, you may have legal grounds to file a retaliation lawsuit.
When retaliation is prohibited
Employees are protected from retaliation when they complain either within their companies or to outside agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about harassment or workplace discrimination. Even if your claim was found to be unfounded, you are still protected as long as you made your complaint in good faith.
You are also protected from retaliation if you cooperated with a different employee’s EEOC investigation or served as a witness in litigation. Recently, the Supreme Court confirmed that employees who participate as witnesses in internal investigations are also protected. There are other federal laws that protect different types of whistleblowers who report illegal activity by their companies. State law also protects employees from employer retaliation.
How to identify employer retaliation
In some cases, retaliation will be blatant and easily identified. In others, the employers may employ greater degrees of subtlety. Changes that are prohibited are those that have adverse impacts on your employment.
When a negative employment action happens soon after you file a complaint, you may have clear evidence of retaliation. Not all actions are obvious, however. You might receive poor reviews after your complaint, be subjected to micromanagement or suddenly excluded from projects or meetings.
What to do if you believe you are the victim of retaliation
If you believe that your employer is retaliating against you, you should begin by speaking with a human resources representative or your supervisor about why the negative actions are occurring. You can be very specific in your questions. Your employer might give you good reasons for the negative action. If he or she cannot, you should voice your opinion that you are suffering retaliation. Your employer will likely deny it, but you can point out that his or her negative action occurred after you complained. You can then ask the employer to stop the negative actions immediately. If your employer will not correct the issue or admit its wrongdoing, you may want to consult with the employment law attorneys at Swidler Swartz. We may assist you in filing your complaint with the EEOC and your state’s corresponding agency.
Building your retaliation case
Your lawyers at Swidler Swartz may help you with building your case to clearly demonstrate that retaliation has occurred or is occurring. You will need to document each instance of retaliatory behavior, including the date, the action that was taken and who may have been present to witness it. You will also want to document the history of your treatment before you filed a complaint. To do this, find old email messages and other documents that demonstrate that your employer was pleased with how you performed your job.
Contact our retaliation law firm
If your employer has retaliated against you for engaging in a legally protected activity, you may need help from the retaliation lawyers at Swidler Swartz. We can help you with gathering the evidence that you will need to support your claim. We can also help you with filing your EEOC complaint. If the agency gives you permission to sue, we may then file a civil complaint on your behalf with the appropriate court and litigate the matter fully to secure the compensation that you deserve. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.