How Can I Protect Myself from Workplace Retaliation?

Unscrupulous employers are counting on the fact that their employees won’t report discrimination, harassment, or other forms of mistreatment out of fear of what it will mean for their career. Taking action against a whistleblower is called retaliation and is prohibited by law. But retaliation can take many forms, and many people wonder how they can truly protect themselves from an employer’s hostile actions.

It’s true that retaliation is not always easy to prove. You will need to prove a causal link between your recent legal action and the negative treatment you’ve received at work. In most cases, this link will be implied rather than explicit. Keep reading to learn more about some of the ways you can prove your employer has/or is likely to take retaliatory actions.

Preempt the Retaliation

Employers may let it slip that they will take action against employees who raise complaints. Although it’s rare, they may make careless comments like “Employees who file complains about us will not be considered for promotions,” or “If there any talk of unionizing then those employees will be terminated.” If your employer has made comments like these, be sure to write it down with the date and time. Feel out your coworkers and make sure they made a note of the comment as well. If any emails, instant messages, or company papers include this language, be sure to save a copy.

Discuss this language with your attorney when filing the initial claim regarding mistreatment. Your employer can be made aware of the serious consequences they will face should they decide to retaliate.

In some instances, an employer may make these comments after they’ve been held accountable in court. You should report this behavior to a lawyer immediately, as your employer is either unaware of the law or is deliberately trying to discourage further another claim through fear.

Save Reviews, Assessments & Conversations

A common tactic used by employers who want to retaliate is to claim that an employee’s performance declined or that their entire team is now obsolete and needs to be laid off. Thankfully, it is not too difficult to prove that this is an act of retaliation. If you are planning on taking legal action, be sure to save copies of performance reviews and other assessments that illustrate your work ethic. It may be beneficial to have your coworkers do this too in case an employer tries to reduce an entire team or department to disguise their retaliation.

Employers may also try to demote or reduce pay for employees who file complaints. This is a rather obvious attack, and unless the employer can prove that this move had been in the works before your claim was filed and will make a significant difference to the company, they will likely not be able to defend themselves from a retaliation charge.

Constructive Discharge

Sometimes, an employer retaliates by making the workplace so uncomfortable that the employee no longer wants to work there. This may include discrimination, harassment, eliminating opportunities for promotion, moving the employee’s desk to an uncomfortable spot, or giving them the least desirable tasks. In this scenario, it may not be possible to create a comfortable working environment at the employee sees no other option but to quit. Thankfully, the law has protections for this scenario as well.

Constructive discharge is a procedure used when an employer has created an intolerable work environment. Under normal circumstances, an employee is not eligible for unemployment benefits if they quit. A constructive discharge, however, will allow an employee to qualify for these benefits. In these situations, the end of employment is considered termination instead of quitting. The employee may also be eligible for back pay, front pages, wages lost as a result of forced resignation, legal expenses, compensatory damages, and more.

Contact a Skilled Employment Lawyer Today

No one should be forced to work in a hostile work environment. Ending this problem can be a difficult road, but it’s far better than the alternative. If you would like to learn more about employer retaliation and your protections from it, contact a skilled employment lawyer today.

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