If you are lucky, you might not have ever heard of workplace retaliation. If not, you know that workplace retaliation happens when an employee is punished by an employer for taking part in an activity that is protected by law. This may include any job actions that are negative such as discipline, demotion, salary reduction, shift or job reassignment, or even firing.
In some cases, it is clear when retaliation is taking place, such as when an employee loses a job, but sometimes it is much more subtle. In those cases, the U.S. Supreme Court says you have to consider the circumstances of the incident. For example, a move to a different shift might not be a big deal to some employees, but to the parent of a young child who has a less flexible schedule, it could be a very big deal. If the employer’s negative action would cause a reasonable person to make a complaint, it could constitute illegal workplace retaliation.
When is Workplace Retaliation Prohibited?
Federal laws state that an employee cannot be retaliated against for filing a complaint about workplace harassment or discrimination, whether the complaint is filed internally or to an outside body such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This law is still true even if the complaint turns out to be false, as long as the complaint was made in good faith.
In addition, such laws protect employees that serve as witnesses and cooperate with EEOCV litigation and investigations. Certain state laws prevent employers from retaliating against their employees for other things such as filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
Proving Your Retaliation Claim
If you feel that you have been retaliated against in your workplace, there are certain elements that must be proven in your claim. First, you must prove that the actions you took were protected and legal. Next, you will need to show that you were subjected to negative actions after your actions. Last, you will have to prove that there was a causal link between your actions and the subsequent actions of your employer. The last part is the most difficult to prove. You may have to address the following:
- Timing: Did your employer’s negative actions occur directly after your own actions? If so, this is one way to prove the retaliation.
- Knowledge: If the individual who took action against you was not even aware that you filed a complaint, you may not be able to prove the act was retaliation.
- No Other Explanation: There could be another reason why your employer did the things they did, so it must be proven that they had no other reason to take action other than for retaliation.
Representing Chicago Workers in Retaliation Claims
The Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline will work hard to protect your rights if you believe that you have been retaliated against by your workplace. We are dedicated to helping you retain your rights by seeking a solution to your workplace issues. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.