Workers have certain legally protected rights that employers are required to allow the workers to exercise, even if the employer does not like the fact that the worker is exercising his or her rights. Sometimes when workers exercise these rights, consequences could be adverse to the employer, such as sanctions, fines or litigation against the employer. Regardless, employers are not allowed to take retaliatory action against workers who have simply exercised their state and federally protected rights.
Employee Actions That Are Protected From Employer Retaliation
There are certain actions that employees can take that are specifically protected from employer retaliation under the law. These actions include:
- Opposing workplace discrimination or discriminatory practices.
- Filing an employment discrimination complaint and participating in an employment discrimination proceeding.
- Filing a complaint concerning workplace harassment.
- Filing a claim concerning a denial of a workplace accommodation.
- Requesting a workplace accommodation.
- Whistleblowing activities concerning an employer’s violation of the law, such as environmental violations, ethical violations, or labor violations.
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Taking qualified leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.
When Employers Take Adverse Action Against An Employee
When an employer knows that a worker is participating in a legally protected activity and yet takes an adverse action against the employee as retaliation for engaging in the activity in the first place, it is illegal. Employer adverse actions against an employee can take many forms, some of which can include:
- Denying the employee a promotion.
- Not hiring the prospective employee.
- Not selecting the employee for certain job tasks, positions, projects, etc.
- Denying the employee certain job benefits.
- Denying the employee accommodations.
- Denying the employee overtime opportunities.
- Denying the employee a transfer.
- Denying the employee a change in work schedule or work location.
- Termination of the employee.
- Demoting the employee.
- Reprimanding the employee.
- Giving the employee a negative review.
- Assigning the employee undesirable work, or sending the employee to a dangerous or unfavorable work location.
- Threatening the employee.
- Harassing the employee.
- Suspending the employee.
- Taking any other adverse action against the employee intended to deter the employee from pursuing the action, or exercising his or her rights.
- Using the employee as an example in order to deter other workers from exercising their rights.
In order to prove retaliation, a victim employee must demonstrate three elements:
- That the employee was engaged in a legally protected activity;
- That the employee was retaliated against by his or her employer in some way (i.e., the employee was punished or an adverse action was taken by the employer against the employee); and
- That the retaliation was the result of the employee participating in the legally protected activity.
Call Now For A Free Initial Consultation
The Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline has assisted many clients who have suffered retaliation from their employers. If you as an employee engage in a legally protected activity, your employer is prohibited from taking retaliatory action against you. Contact our Chicago, Illinois attorney today for a free consultation regarding your situation.