How Do You Prove Retaliation in the Workplace?
How to Prove Retaliation in The Workplace?
U.S. and Ohio state laws prohibit employers from punishing or mistreating workers and job applicants for reporting or otherwise calling attention to problems ranging from discrimination and wage theft to fraud. Retaliation for filing a complaint can take many forms, but courts make it an employee’s responsibility to prove that an employer has acted illegally.
Partnering with a dedicated Columbus employment retaliation lawyer can help a worker or jobseeker put together a case, but doing that will be easier if the person knows what constitutes retaliation and what type of evidence will be needed. If you are personally experiencing retaliation or witnessing co-workers being retaliated against, consider calling The Friedmann Firm at 614.610.9755 to request a confidential appointment with an attorney who has handled many retaliation cases. You can also reach out online by completing this contact form.
Recognize Workplace Retaliation When It Happens
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has the primary responsibility of enforcing laws against workplace retaliation. The commission defines retaliation as any “materially adverse” action taken by an employer or its officers in response to a worker or job applicant who engages in a protected activity.
Protected activities include, but are not limited to,
- Reporting discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or age;
- Reporting violations of law, which is often called whistleblowing;
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation for a temporary or permanent disability;
- Asking about unequal pay for the same work;
- Asking for unpaid overtime pay; and
- Cooperating with the investigation into any of the alleged activities already listed.
The EEOC and courts that decide workplace retaliation cases involve many ways in which employers punish workers and try to discourage others from engaging in protected activities. Examples of workplace retaliation include
- Imposing a lengthy unpaid suspension;
- Reassigning to a dirtier, more dangerous, or less-prestigious position;
- Changing shifts to create hardships;
- Denying professional development opportunities;
- Refusing a promotion or withholding benefits;
- Assessing penalties for actions that other employees do not get punished for;
- Permitting or engaging in physical or verbal abuse;
- Refusing to hire or call back from a layoff; or
- Threatening to do any of the above.
Know What Constitutes Evidence of Workplace Retaliation
To side with the worker or job applicant in a workplace retaliation case, the EEOC and a court will want to see evidence of some or all of the following:
- The employer failed to investigate the issue that gave rise to the protected activity,
- The employer failed to investigate a complaint of retaliation,
- Engaging in protected activity resulted in treatment other employees did not receive,
- The retaliation occurred shortly after the protected activity or complaint about earlier retaliation, often defined as “temporal proximity,”
- A pattern of retaliation exists, and/or
- The employer offered bogus explanations for taking retaliatory actions or not conducting investigations.
Importantly, a good-faith and thorough investigation by the employer should include interviews with the person who made the report, the people accused of wrongdoing, and all witnesses. The investigation should also result in an official decision of whether action is required and what those actions will be.
When an employee or job applicant suspects he or she is the victim of workplace retaliation, that person should keep notes on discussions with managers and supervisors, save all emails and phone messages related to the possible case, and ask co-workers if they will be willing to testify in support. Collaborating with a Columbus employment law attorney will help the person understand what types of documentation to create and keep.
Rachel was absolutely amazing. As an attorney she really took the time to really listen to my concerns. She was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. The outcome was favorable on my behalf and I appreciate her efforts to achieve a good outcome. I would highly recommend her and the Friedmann firm to represent me if ever needed in future.
Working with Rachel Sabo from Friedmann Firm was absolutely amazing! She upholds integrity, honesty and without a doubt fights for what is right! Rachel was extremely transparent and real! Please don’t let wrong be right, Rachel will strive to advocate and put her whole heart in obtaining resolve in your situation! What an absolute blessing, she won my case in less than 1 week💪
My experience with the Friedmann Firm is an absolute 5 stars. From my very first call with Karen, to all of my communication with Rachel, everything exceeded all of my expectations. Rachel and Karen were so caring and understanding in a very sensitive situation. They responded immediately to any questions or concerns I had. I would HIGHLY recommend the Friedmann Firm. They are caring, professional, understanding, and I would trust them with any issue I have in the future.
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm were fantastic to work with. The thought of needing an employment lawyer was scary for me, it was confusing and complex. But Rachel listened, asked questions and took time to really understand me and my priorities. I felt calm, supported and excited for the first time in weeks after talking to her!! We worked together to review everything, set expectations and meet my priorities! Thanks Rachel and team for all your work!!!
Rachel Friedmann of the Friedman Firm was my attorney for a very recent legal matter. I would highly recommend Rachel based on her legal knowledge, her honest appraisal of the matter and expected outcomes, her open communication and timely responses to my questions and the matter itself, and her steadfastness in dealing with the opposing counsel until a final agreement was reached.
Rachel and her staff went over and above the call of duty to help me achieve fiscal resolution to my legal issue. She wasn’t always available to talk but was always responsive via text and email when in court out of the office and even on vacation. I feel she earned her percentage cut.
Couldn’t be happier with the representation I received from Jamie Bailey on my civil litigation case. She worked tirelessly to resolve the case and in the end negotiated a fair settlement on my behalf. I would highly recommend her to anyone! Thanks for everything Friedman law firm.
Friedman Firm was a great help in a difficult time in my life. They went above and beyond to get me back on track. Rachel was so good to work with and is extremely knowledgeable about the law and employment rights. Can't thank them enough for all there hard work. Highly recommend them to anyone.
The Friedmann Firm (specifically Pete Friedmann) represented me through what seemed like a never ending employment discrimination suit. The suit was filed just before Covid shut everything down in 2020. Add to that a former employer who refused to admit fault. In spite of all of that, Pete stood resolute in his representation of me and working for the best outcome for me. We ended up settling prior to trial and I was more than satisfied with the results. Pete was always available to answer questions and reassure me throughout this process. I highly recommend The Friedmann Firm!
Pete Friedmann and his firm are fantastic. He represented me for more than a year going through a suit with a previous employer. He walked me through every step of the process and was always quick to respond to any questions I had. My settlement came in and we parted ways with both sides being pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend the Friedmann firm and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future if the need arose. Thank you, Pete!
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm have been amazing to work with. Rachel was very helpful, listened to our concerns and took our case. She communicated well throughout and really worked for us. We were very well represented!
I loved working with The Friedmann Firm. Rachel and Jamie are exceptional lawyers and were diligent in reviewing my case and letting me know of my options. Jamie was extremely thorough and handled even the smallest details of my case with ease. The entire process was seamless and they were always quick to respond to emails and calls. I would definitely recommend working with The Friedmann Firm.
I would recommend Rachel Sabo Friedmann and the Friedmann firm for severance negotiations. Rachel was always available and responsive and made an effort to ensure I was updated on every step of the process. Her diligent efforts produced a prompt resolution and we are very happy with the results!