Every employee should know how to protect themselves legally in case of discrimination and offensive behavior in the workplace. However, there have been instances where the employer has punished an employee for engaging in legally protected activity or just raising their voice against discrimination, in the form of negative job action, including demotion, discipline, salary reduction and even firing. This kind of act is known as retaliation.
Retaliation lawyers in Houston, working at Khemka & Choudhary, say that retaliation can also be more subtle, such that at times it is unclear whether the employer’s action is negative or not, like a change to an unfavorable job shift or questioning for indiscipline. However, if the employer’s adverse action deters a reasonable person in the situation from making a complaint, it constitutes illegal retaliation.
Indications Your Employer is Retaliating Against You
It could be hard to tell sometimes whether the employer is retaliating against you or not. For instance, after a complaint about a supervisor’s harassing conduct, a change in the employer’s attitude and demeanor may not be considered retaliation. But changes that have an adverse effect on your employment are retaliatory.
If something clearly negative happens shortly after you make a complaint, such as firing or demotion, you might have sufficient reason to be suspicious of retaliation. Retaliation may come in the form of an unexpected and unfair poor performance review, your sudden exclusion from staff meetings or the boss micromanaging everything you do.
Sometimes, employees are even fired for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement. However, different states require different conditions in the contract. The conditions could be narrow, prohibiting the employee directly pilfering the company’s crucial information while working for competition, or extremely broad, prohibiting employees from working in the same field for a direct competitor anywhere in the US. A retaliation attorney will be able to help you understand your rights in such situations.
What can You Do?
Once you suspect that you are being treated unfairly, first talk to your supervisor or a human resources representative about the reasons for these negative actions. If the situation is genuine, your employer may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. However, if your employer can’t give you a legitimate explanation, voice your concern that you are being retaliated against. If he’ guilty of the act, no doubt your employer will deny it. You should point out that the negative action took place only after you complained, and ask for it to stop immediately. If the employer isn’t willing to admit to their wrongdoing or correct the problem, you may have to take your concerns to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or an employment lawyer.
Build a Case for Retaliation
If you suspect retaliation and your employer won’t correct the problem, hire a retaliation attorney. The lawyer will ask you to show a link between your initial complaint and the employer’s retaliatory behavior. For this, document the allegedly retaliatory behavior. Keep track of historical information prior to when you made your complaint. For example, as a retaliatory act, your boss claims your performance is poor after you make a complaint. Be sure to dig up any email messages or other documents showing that your boss was pleased with your performance before the complaint.
Always remember, employers cannot punish employees for filing complaints about discrimination or harassment or participating in workplace investigations.