A majority of the employment discrimination claims the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pursues do not involve discrimination at all. Instead, they hinge on retaliation. That distribution was accurate in 2018, and it is true in most other years, as well.
As outlined below, retaliation claims are usually easier to prove in court than bias claims. Additionally, retaliation claims usually resonate well with jurors. They can often see the relationship between an activity and a response easier than they can see discrimination, especially if the employer has a discrimination defense.
Therefore, a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer can often obtain substantial compensation in these matters. Money is only part of the story, however. Employment discrimination claims also force companies to be more inclusive and change the way they do business.
Retaliation often involves a prohibited activity, and sexual harassment is a good illustration. Workplace harassment is notoriously difficult to prove. Even if the complainant has a witness who saw the harassment, there are other elements to establish. For example, the victim’s feelings of harassment must be objectively reasonable.
Retaliation, on the other hand, is relatively easy to prove, as mentioned above. Assume Sarah’s supervisor sexually harasses her on Monday, she reports the activity on Tuesday, and she is disciplined on Wednesday. That discipline could be:
- Verbal or written warning,
- Reassignment to a less-desirable position,
- Denial of a promised promotion, or
- Reassignment to a less desirable place in the office.
In that situation, it is reasonable to assume the report and the reaction were related. That is true even if the employer had another basis for the retaliation, such as a poor attendance record or a negative performance review. The victim’s case is stronger if other employees committed similar infractions and were not disciplined as harshly.
Whistleblower retaliation is another good illustration. Under Garcetti v. Ceballos, only certain kinds of whistleblower activities are protected. These situations include:
- Hazardous materials in the workplace, if these hazardous materials do not involve a core job function,
- Accepting defective goods for sale or resale,
- Workplace discrimination or harassment,
- Refusal to provide mandatory break or rest periods, and
- Requiring employees to accept additional assignments without additional pay.
Whistleblower retaliation could be almost any adverse action, such as firing, demotion, reassignment, or a negative performance review.
If you suspect retaliation and you are still employed at the company, bring up the issue with the human resources officer. An attorney can often make this effort on your behalf. If the company does not make things right, do not be afraid to take the next step.
Connect with an Experienced Lawyer
A retaliation claim may be the key to compensation and justice. For a free consultation with an experienced employment discrimination attorney in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. After-hours visits are available.