It is illegal for a manager or employer to fire, demote, or harass a worker as punishment for taking an action that they are within their rights to take. If your employer retaliated against you for exercising your rights, you owe it to yourself and your coworkers to consult an employment lawyer to find out how you can prove your suspicions. At The Blankenship Law Firm, we stand behind workers when their employers break the law.
Common Forms of Workplace Retaliation
Before we get into what you will need to do to prove retaliation, we want to explain the forms retaliation can take. Many people think they can only take action against their employer if they have been fired, but there are other kinds of retaliation, and you don’t have to stand for any of them. Typical forms of employer revenge include the following:
- Termination. Your employer may retaliate against you by unjustly terminating your employment in response to you reporting workplace violations, filing a complaint, or participating in an investigation.
- Demotion or reduction in pay. Retaliation can involve demoting you to a lower position or reducing your pay as a form of punishment for engaging in protected activities or exercising your rights.
- Undesirable job assignments. You might be assigned undesirable tasks, projects, or shifts as a means of punishment or discouragement.
- Exclusion or isolation. Retaliation can take the form of isolating or excluding you from meetings, discussions, decision-making processes, or important projects as a way of marginalizing you or limiting your opportunities.
- Increased scrutiny or micromanagement. Retaliatory behavior may involve subjecting you to excessive scrutiny, micromanagement, or unwarranted disciplinary actions, creating a hostile work environment or excessive stress.
- Negative performance evaluations. Employers may provide unjustifiably negative performance evaluations or withhold deserved promotions or salary increases as a form of retaliation against you.
- Threats or intimidation. Retaliation can include verbal or non-verbal threats, intimidation tactics, or creating a hostile work environment to dissuade you from engaging in protected activities or asserting your rights.
- Negative references. Your employer may retaliate by providing negative or false references to potential employers when you leave the organization, hindering your chances of securing future employment.
- Adverse schedule changes. Retaliatory actions can involve making sudden or unwarranted changes to your work schedule that negatively impact your personal life or create difficulties.
- Harassment. Retaliation can involve subjecting you to harassment or discrimination in response to your engagement in protected activities.
These kinds of things happen to employees all the time. The key to a retaliation case is proving that the negative action happened in direct response to you engaging in a protected workplace activity.
What You Need to Prove a Workplace Retaliation Claim
When you consult with an employment lawyer about what happened to you, they will want to know a few things. They will ask you:
- Did you experience or witness an illegal or unethical activity in your workplace, or were you injured on the job?
- Did you engage in a protected activity, such as filing a complaint, reporting an incident to authorities, or filing for workers’ compensation?
- Did your employer take adverse action against you after you engaged in the protected activity?
- Have you suffered harm as a result of the action your employer took against you?
The more evidence you can provide for each of these claims, the stronger your case will be. For example, do you have proof of the instigating incident, such as an offensive email, statement from a coworker, accident report, photographs, or other documents? Do you have copies of or witnesses to your report or complaint? Your lawyer can walk you through obtaining this evidence, as well as connecting your actions with the adverse employment action and resulting losses.