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 and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
If you are in need of an employment attorney, this is your sign to talk to Rachel and Jamie. Amazing!! They handled my case like the true professionals they are! They stuck to a strategy, even when it seemed like it wasn’t going our way and BAM! We get the outcome we wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I will always return to them if I EVER have an employment issue again. Thank you so much for helping me and my family!
Dedicated! Thorough! Detailed! Professional! Personable! I can keep going with the many qualities Pete and his team have. I highly recommend him!!! You won't be disappointed.
I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
Rachel was top-notch from start to finish. She was responsible, professional, quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls. She gives it to you straight, which I prefer! She thinks outside the box and is definitely the dog you want in the fight for you. She does not waste time and immediately dives right in to get the best results she can for you. I would highly recommend Rachel and her firm to anyone who wants to get the job done right, the first time, in a professional, compassionate and decisive manner.
My wife used this firm for a matter she had with her former employer. She could not have been more satisfied with their services. They were timely in responses, courteous, and very thoughtful. This was a difficult process for her and Pete made it so much easier by handling all of the details of her case.
Rachel Sabo of The Friedmann Firm believed in me when no one else did & helped me through every step of my legal process. Very happy with the firm’s professionalism & dedication to my case.
I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.