What is Employment Retaliation?

Dec 14, 2016
By Peter Friedmann

First and foremost, employment retaliation is illegal under federal and Ohio laws. It happens when an employer penalizes an employee for engaging in “protected activity” such as: reporting unlawful conduct, opposing unlawful conduct, or participating in an investigation into reports of unlawful mistreatment. The law also prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who go to the news media or law enforcement with information about corporate wrongdoing.

Regulations and court decisions on what constitutes employment discrimination identify the examples of prohibited retaliation:

  • Firing an employee solely because he or she filed a workplace discrimination complaint
  • Giving an employee a negative performance evaluation because he or she is taking part in a workplace discrimination lawsuit
  • Transferring an employee to a less-desirable position for complaining about sexual harassment
  • Abusing an employee verbally for cooperating with a discrimination investigation
  • Assaulting an employee physically for declining sexual advances
  • Changing work schedules for complaining about nonpayment of wages or overtime
  • Subjecting an employee to increased scrutiny for refusing to engage in discriminatory behaviors towards co-workers
  • Denying raises, promotions, or other career opportunities for calling attention to pay inequities
  • Reporting an employee to police for stepping in to protect a co-worker from discrimination, harassment, or abuse

Filing discrimination complaints, and acting to identify or end discrimination and harassment are defined as “protected activities” because every worker has the right to demand a safe, equitable, nonprejudiced, and nonbiased workplace. When a worker engages in protected activity, it is unlawful for his or her employer to take any retaliatory action. When retaliation does occur, the victim is entitled to seek damages to compensate the employee for his or her loss.

Most employment retaliation cases are conducted under rules enforced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable retaliation lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, will help an employee understand what remedies are available.

To succeed with a retaliation claim at either level, a worker must convince a judge or jury of the following three things:

  • That he or she engaged in protected conduct,
  • That an “adverse employment action” like firing, demotion, or abuse followed the protected conduct, and
  • That the employer took the adverse employment action because the plaintiff engaged in protected conduct (causal connection)

Drawing a causal connection between the protected conduct and an adverse action can be difficult. Employees can benefit greatly from working with an employment retaliation lawyer in Columbus before formally filing a complaint with the EEOC or a state agency. Gathering and organizing as much evidence as early as possible increases the likelihood of succeeding in court, as does carefully wording all filings.

We welcome you to request a consultation with a retaliation lawyer by calling the Columbus, OH, offices of the Friedmann Firm at 614.610.9755. You can also connect with us online and share Every discussion will be kept confidential.