Workplace retaliation occurs when a manager or supervisor punishes, mistreats, or fires an employee specifically because the person engaged in what is called a “protected activity”. Federal and state laws define what “protected activity” is. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
Laws and statutes prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age when older than 40, disability status, pregnancy, FMLA and military service. Sexual harassment is covered under the laws that address sex discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are common examples of laws that protect employees from retaliation. How to prove retaliation in the workplace?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides the following examples of retaliation that employees might experience in the workplace:
The most-severe form of workplace retaliation is a wrongful termination. This takes two forms, and both are against the law.
A manager or supervisor can simply fire an employee who engages in protected activity. This might happen shortly after a person engages in protected activity. If the termination is very close in time to the protected activity and there is no legitimate reason for the termination, this will make the employee’s claim easier to prove. Obviously, an employee can be fired for misconduct or a violation of policy even if that person engages in protected activity.
The more insidious and traumatizing form of wrongful termination is called constructive discharge. This happens when a manager or supervisor allows the work environment to become so hostile that the employee who has been targeted for retaliation quits because no reasonable person could tolerate working in that type of environment.
Victims of workplace retaliation can demand compensation in the form of back pay and monetary damages. Other damages may be available based on the laws that govern the particular situation.
At The Friedmann Firm, our experienced employee rights attorneys stand up for workers who have suffered illegal retaliation. We are based in Columbus, but we advise and represent workers all across Ohio. You can schedule a free and confidential consultation online or speak with us by calling (614) 610-9755.