Feeling unjustly fired after raising concerns about workplace discrimination? You may have a case against your employer for retaliation, a form of illegal discrimination. But navigating the legal intricacies can be daunting. This blog equips you with the knowledge and steps to prove employer retaliation and seek justice under wrongful termination laws.
Understanding retaliation and protected activities
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against you for engaging in protected activities. These activities safeguard your rights in the workplace and include:
- Filing a discrimination complaint: Whether with your company’s internal system or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Opposing discriminatory practices: Witnessing or speaking up against harassment, bias, or unequal treatment.
- Requesting accommodations: For disability, religion, or other protected grounds.
- Participating in an investigation: Assisting in a company or government inquiry into workplace misconduct.
Remember, you have the right to engage in these activities without fear of retaliation. If you experience negative consequences, like termination, demotion, or reduced work hours, following the steps below can help build your case.
Building your retaliation claim
Maintain a detailed timeline of events, including:
- The protected activity you engaged in (date, specifics)
- The adverse action taken against you (date, type of action)
- Any witnesses present during both instances
- Emails, memos, or other communication supporting your claims
Analyse the timing
Did the adverse action follow closely after your protected activity? A close temporal connection strengthens your case.
Consider the context
Look for patterns of unfair treatment or hostility towards you after your protected activity. Continue to document your findings.
Gather supporting documents
Collect performance reviews, disciplinary records, or company policies that highlight your good standing before the adverse action.
Identify colleagues who may have observed the protected activity or the adverse action taken against you.
Know what actions protected
Wrongful termination laws vary by state, but generally protect employees from being fired for:
- Retaliatory reasons: As discussed above.
- Discriminatory reasons: Based on race, gender, religion, age, disability, or other protected categories.
- Breach of contract: If your employer violated an employment agreement, handbook, or union contract.
- Public policy violations: Retaliating against whistleblowing on illegal activities or unsafe working conditions.
Identifying the specific law protecting you depends on your state and the facts surrounding your termination. Consulting with an experienced San Diego employment law attorney can be crucial in understanding your rights and options.
Seek justice if your rights have been violated
If you think your employer has taken retaliatory action against you, follow these steps to get your career back on track.
- Contact the EEOC: File a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the alleged retaliation. The EEOC will investigate your claim and may attempt to resolve it through mediation.
- Consider legal options: If mediation fails, you may pursue a lawsuit against your employer. An employment lawyer can represent you in court and fight for your rights.
- Seek support groups: Connect with other individuals who have experienced workplace retaliation. Support groups can offer valuable information, emotional support, and a sense of community.
Proving retaliation can be tricky; employers come up with crafty ways of justifying retaliatory actions all the time. However, employers are not above the law and should be held accountable for their wrongdoings, even if you feel like the odds are stacked against you.