Employee Rights: Retaliation is Unlawful

 In Employment Law

Workplace Retaliation is Unlawful

Did you exercise your rights as an employee only to have your boss retaliate against you? If this has happened to you, your employer can be held liable for money damages and other punishments. Employer retaliation is unlawful. If you think your employer has retaliated against you, you should contact the employee rights attorneys at Herrmann Law who can help vindicate your rights as an employee.

Unlawful retaliation occurs when:

  • An employee engages in some “protected activity”
  • The employer takes some “adverse employment action” against the employee
  • There is “causal linkage” — that is, the “adverse employment action” was taken because the employee engaged in a “protected activity”

Obviously, retaliation is unjust and painful for the victim. But, just as bad, retaliation creates an unhealthy and toxic environment in the workplace. Retaliation causes a chilling effect on other employees who, because of the retaliation, are deterred from complaining, insisting on their rights, and aiding other employees. These are among the reasons that retaliation is unlawful.

Examples of “protected activity” include demanding overtime when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, insisting on full payment for work done, filing complaints with the local equal opportunity or labor agency, helping other employees stand up for their rights, asking for reimbursements or wage premiums required by law, reporting harassment or discrimination, participating in investigations regarding harassment or discrimination, or otherwise insisting upon any employee right guaranteed by state and federal labor laws. Protected activity might also include taking time off from work for medical reasons, to care for family members, for jury duty, or for other non-work activities.

An “adverse employment action” is not limited to actions like terminating or disciplining an employee. An “adverse” action is any sort of action taken by an employer that negatively impacts an employee. In addition to termination and discipline, examples include:

  • Cuts in wages or salary or overtime
  • Reductions in assigned work hours
  • Negative performance reviews
  • Unasked for shift changes, particularly to less desirable shifts
  • Job and/or location transfers
  • Surprise changes in job assignments and/or duties
  • Verbal and other forms of abuse

Typically, employers do not admit that they are engaged in retaliation. Thus, proof of retaliation generally requires indirect and circumstantial evidence. Temporal proximity is one common method of proving that an adverse employment action was taken because the employee was engaged in protected activity. For example, if a worker challenges the calculation of his or her overtime payments, and then, the next day, without warning, the employee’s hours are reduced by half, that is evidence of retaliation.

Sole-target actions are another indirect method of proving retaliation. Consider this example: at the beginning of a work week, an employee makes a complaint that he or she was the victim of sexual harassment. Then, later that week, the boss makes a general announcement that “hours will be cut.” However, the victim of sexual harassment is the only employee whose hours are reduced. Retaliation can be deduced from the fact that only one employee received reduced hours — the employee who complained about harassment.

Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today

If you think that your employer has retaliated against you or has engaged in other violations of your rights as an employee, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229.

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