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» What qualifies as retaliation in the workplace




Employer retaliation after resignation is common on the workplace, but there are several federal and state laws that protect employees from harassment and discrimination at work. Los Angeles employees may not know that they are protected from retaliation. Employers cannot penalize or punish workers who file complaints about harassment, discrimination or participate in investigations at work. These cases could lead to a range of employment actions, including a reduction in pay or denial of training or promotions.

You should contact a retaliation claim attorney if you feel that your employer is trying to retaliate against you for participating in legally protected activity. They will fight for your rights, represent your best interests, and stand by you.


What does Workplace Retaliation look like


According to the U.S., the most common basis for discrimination at work is retaliation. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) If you engage in any of the following protected activities, your employer cannot fire or retaliate.

  • You have filed a complaint to the EEOC, or you are a witness in a lawsuit, investigation, or complaint.
  • You are currently in communication with a manager or supervisor about harassment and/or employment discrimination.
  • Answered questions in an employer investigation into alleged harassment.
  • You refused to comply with orders that could lead to discriminatory behavior.
  • You refused to be sexy or protected a colleague from harassment.
  • You asked for accommodation to accommodate a disability or follow a religious practice.
  • To uncover potentially discriminatory wages, you asked colleagues or managers about their salaries.

Noting that participation in the complaint process is protected against retaliation is important. Other acts of resistance to workplace discrimination are also protected, provided the employee had a reasonable belief that the workplace might violate federal laws. But, employees are not automatically protected from being disciplined or dismissed for engaging in a protected activity.

Employers can discipline employees or terminate them if the employer takes a negative action because it was not retaliatory or discriminatory. Our Los Angeles employment lawyers frequently observe that when there is discrimination or harassment at work, any adverse action against employees who have complained or taken part in the complaint process tends to be retaliatory. Employers cannot respond to protected activities that discourage employees from complaining or resisting future discrimination.

These are examples of negative actions an employer could take to punish employees for taking part in protected activities:

  • You can reprimand the employee or give a poor or unfair job performance evaluation.
  • Transferring an employee to a position less desirable.
  • Engaging in verbal and physical abuse
  • Threatening to report to authorities. This could include threats to report employees to police or immigration officials.
  • Increased scrutiny of employees without justification
  • Spreading rumors or lies about an employee.
  • Changes in the schedule or relocation of the employee to a difficult location can make it more difficult for them to do their work.
  • Change the job duties of an employee to make them more desirable.
  • Reduce your salary.


How can you prove retaliation at work


Your employer cannot penalize you for exercising your rights under federal and state laws. Retaliation is not allowed for employees who speak out against harassment or discrimination. Retaliation is still a common occurrence in American workplaces. Retaliation claims are included in more than a third (33%) of discrimination cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An employee who files a lawsuit alleging retaliation from his or her employer must prove three elements.


You are engaged in a protected activity


Federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees. They also prohibit workers from engaging in protected activities under these laws. Employees who oppose acts that are deemed illegal under federal laws, such as harassment or discrimination, are actually engaging in protected activity. The Supreme Court ruled that employees are protected from retaliation when they report harassment or discrimination directly, as well as when they take part in an internal investigation, such as as a witness.

In general, an employee who informs his or her employer that he or she has engaged in discriminatory, harassing, or other behavior is protected against retaliation. This applies even if an employee is asked to discriminate, but refuses.

Employers who file a discrimination and harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or another state agency, participate or are involved in discrimination, harassment, or lawsuit against their employer, are protected from any type of retaliation. These laws protect against retaliation for employees who take part in an internal investigation of a company.


The Employer took adverse action


Retaliation may be a legal term under federal or state law. This is especially true if the employer takes adverse actions against employees. Negative job evaluations, termination, salary cuts, and demotion are all examples of adverse actions taken by the employer against an employee.




The Retaliation for your Engagement in Protected Activity


It is not enough for employees to show that they were involved in protected activity or that they were subject to adverse job actions in a workplace retaliation claim. Employees must also show that these events are related. Employees must also prove that the protected activity was responsible for the retaliation. If a female employee complaining about sexual harassment is fired, it's not because of cost-cutting measures or layoffs, but because her position was eliminated as an isolated act, she could have strong retaliation claims.

It is difficult to prove direct causality in most cases unless the employer admits or threatens verbally or in writing. In such cases, employees must show evidence of retaliation including the time and manner of the adverse actions. If adverse action is taken in response to an employee's complaint, then there may be grounds for retaliation. Retaliation claims by employees should be able to show that the adverse action was taken knowing about the employee's complaint and the protected activities in which they were engaged. It would be very difficult to prove retaliation if the employer didn't know about the protected activities of the complaint.

Sometimes, employees may be able to show that their employer had no other reason for taking the negative action. This can be especially true if the employer's reason for taking the negative action is not logical or a reasonable one. If an employee engages in protected activity and is given a pay cut for "poor performance," but has received excellent performance reviews in the past. The employee might be able to prove that there is no other reason or motivation other than retaliation.


What to do if you are subject to workplace retaliation


Retaliation at work can lead to serious injury. How much is your retaliation claim worth? These are some steps you can take to protect your rights, and build your case against the employer.

Remain calm. This can be very difficult, especially if you've been discriminated against at work or harassed. You may also face retaliation for complaining about illegal activity and exercising your rights. It is important to remain calm and composed in these situations. Your employer may use your words or exaggerations to justify adverse actions they have taken against you.

All details should be documented when you file a workplace retaliation suit, a paper trail is always helpful. You must immediately file any adverse action notices that you have received. All emails, instant messages, instant memos, and any other communications that could be used to prove that you are being retaliated against should be saved.

Communicate proactively talk directly to the person who is complicit in the retaliation. Communicating to informally resolve any retaliation, miscommunications or other actions that may have appeared as retaliation is a good start. If your employer has one, talk to your supervisor or manager.

Utilize internal procedures may companies have strong policies that prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. Have a look at the manual of your company. The first step is to file an intern complaint. This process is usually outlined in employee handbooks, or communicated by human resources. Most employees have an internal complaint system in place to address incidents of harassment or discrimination.

Avoid social media. Social media is a great way for people to stay in touch and communicate. However, it can also be dangerous if there are ongoing employment litigations. Social networks are not protected by privacy settings. Your employer can easily access your account on social media and use it against you. Even if the posts or images seem to be harmful, this is a common problem. Remember that any information you share online, including via social media, can be used against your employer in employment lawsuits. Our employment lawyers suggest that you delete all social media accounts, and do not post any information online until your case has been resolved.

Get in touch with the authorities. You must immediately file a police report if you are being physically or sexually assaulted. You should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency. The EEOC has 50 offices across the country. You can also file a complaint. The EEOC's website portal allows you to start the process of filing a discrimination charge. All of this is free for the public and can prove to be an invaluable resource to those who do not have the means to hire private legal counsel. Kingsley & Kingsley offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee. This means that we won't charge any fees unless we receive compensation for your losses. Our fees usually represent a percentage of the recovery.

Retain an employment lawyer. It may be a smart idea to get legal representation, regardless of whether you file a discrimination case within the company or through EEOC. A legal counsel is invaluable in helping you navigate a technical process. It can also help expand your knowledge about employment law. If the matter is not resolved, you may file a workplace retaliation suit against your employer.


What is Retaliation


There are several questions about retaliation because retaliation is any adverse employment action taken against an employee who complained of discrimination, harassment, or a violation of workplace law. Retaliation can also be used against employees who are involved in investigations of any of these issues. Employers, managers, and fellow employees can take adverse action.


What is considered an adverse employment action


Retaliation doesn't always lead to termination. Some examples of adverse employment actions that are more common include:

  • Firing
  • Demotion
  • Discipline
  • Negative Evaluations
  • Payroll decrease
  • Transfer assignment or job change
  • Transferring your job location
  • Attitude or behavior that is hostile
  • Reduced benefits

Retaliation against someone is illegal if it is an ad hoc reaction to:

  • Discrimination complaints
  • Sexual harassment complaints
  • Hourly and wage claims
  • Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).
  • Whistleblower actions


How can you tell if your employer is retaliating against you


Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if your employer is retaliating against someone. This is where an experienced workplace retaliation attorney would come in handy to help you avoid pitfalls. If you complain about the harassing behavior of your supervisor, his attitude or demeanor might change. However, if your supervisor acts professionally towards you now, it isn’t retaliation. Retaliatory changes are the only thing that can hurt your employment.


What should you do if you've been subject to retaliation?


It is your responsibility to notify your employer about any retaliatory treatment. This usually doesn't apply if it is a termination. You must do so because the law demands that your employer investigate any claims of retaliation, and take appropriate and immediate action to rectify the situation.


What if the Retaliation Continues


An employee must file a complaint to the appropriate federal or state agency to bring a suit against an employer for harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. While such a complaint would intend to allow the employer to correct its conduct before it is issued, many employees find that it is merely a formality that must also be addressed before a lawsuit can be filed.

You should contact either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which is the state agency that investigates retaliation complaints related to discrimination or harassment, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal equivalent of the DFEH that investigates retaliation related violations of federal civil rights law (Title VII) in employment. Other agencies such as the California Office of the Labor Commissioner can investigate whistleblower retaliation claims.


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