When an employee engages in certain protected acts, their employer is legally forbidden from taking action against them in retaliation. These acts include filing complaints about illegal activity such as discrimination, and refusing to participate in illegal activities. Unfortunately, employers still may attempt to retaliate against employees. Here is what you should know to prove employer retaliation and/or a whistleblower claim.
Prove that You Participated in a Protected Activity
First, you will need to prove that you have participated in a protected activity, which would give your employer a reason to retaliate against you. Protected activities include:
- Opposing an act that is illegal, such as discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Opposition can come in the form of filing a complaint, participating in an internal investigation, or refusing to comply with a discriminatory request.
- Participating in filing an EEOC complaint, participating in an agency investigation, or taking part in a discrimination or harassment lawsuit.
Often, there will be documentation, such as complaints or investigation documents, which may be used to demonstrate your participation in a protected activity.
Prove that Your Employer Took Negative Action Against You
Any materially adverse action against you may be considered retaliation, according to Title VII and other civil rights statutes, if the action is intended to deter you from engaging in a protected activity. Examples of negative actions may include:
- Salary Reduction
- Negative Evaluations
- Change in assignments, job duties, shift, or in the terms of your job
Often, there will be paperwork showing the negative action taken against you. You may also have coworkers or supervisors who can testify on your behalf that the negative action occurred.
Perhaps the most difficult piece of your case to prove, causation is the link between the protected activity and the negative action. You must demonstrate that your employer took a negative action against you because you participated in a protected activity. It is not considered retaliation if the action is the result of another cause, such as a cost-cutting measure. It can be difficult to prove retaliation without your employer directly admitting it, but there is still evidence that may support your claim:
- Timing: The adverse action comes directly after the complaint or other protected action.
- Knowledge: The person who took negative action had knowledge of your participation in the protected activity.
- Lack of other explanation: If you can demonstrate there was no other likely cause for the negative action after participation in a protected activity, you may be able to persuade the count that the action was meant to be retaliatory.
Have Questions? Speak With Our Hollister Attorney - (888) 796-4010
If you suspect that your employer has retaliated against you for speaking up about illegal practices, you deserve justice. At Polaris Law Group, we are dedicated to ensuring that all workers are treated fairly and are not subjected to retaliation for doing the right thing. Our Hollister employment lawyer can help you determine if you have a case, and help you plan your next steps.
Begin your case with a free case evaluation. Contact our offices online, or call (888) 796-4010.