In the past 10 years, there have been at least 30,000 reported charges to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of retaliation each year. Sadly, it seems very common for employees to give up their rights as a consequence of fearing retaliation. And although it is illegal, employers continue to retaliation against employees who are simple exercising their rights. The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group wants to make sure employers like this are punished for their crimes. We understand that having a job is important, especially in the pricey city of Los Angeles, but we also believe your rights as an employee are equally, if not more important. Do not sacrifice your rights just to keep your job. Instead, you can have your cake and eat it too with a retaliation lawsuit against your employer where possible outcomes are job reinstatement, back pay, and recovery of punitive and compensatory damages.
Workplace retaliation is when an employer punished an employee for taking part in a legally protected activity. Taking part in legally protected activity does not necessarily only mean filing a claim. Other actions that you can legally take without being retaliated against include:
- Being a witness in a charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- Communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination or other illegal activity
- Answer questions during an employer investigation
While most people automatically think of being terminated as the only form of retaliation, there are actually many more ways in which an employer may try to punish you. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is not just adverse job actions that are retaliation but also a change in terms or conditions of employment. Here are 6 examples of workplace retaliation:
Harassment is a form of retaliation according to the EEOC. Retaliation harassment could be threats, increased surveillance, altering work conditions so an employee cannot perform their job, or giving unjustified poor employee reviews.
An example of harassment as retaliation can be seen in the case of a Mount Vernon Firefighter, Ernest Richardson’s, charges against the city. Richardson had been promoted to fire commissioner but was then told he had to reinstate Henry George Thomas, the mayor’s half-brother, who was convicted on federal gun charges. Richardson claims was harassed for not supporting the rehiring until he was forced to resign. The harassment continued when he returned to the fire department, where his superiors would call him homophobic and racist slurs. One time told they made him put gas in the captain’s care to embarrass him. Richardson is seeking recovery of damages against human rights and whistleblower laws.
2. Criminal Acts
An employer may retaliate against an employer in the form of criminal activity such as vandalism, assault, or theft. An employer may also falsely report criminal activity of an employee to keep them from exercising their rights.
3. Post-employment retaliation
If you decide to leave your job after filing charges, there’s still a possibility you can be retaliated against. An employer may write an unjustified bad reference for you. If information is falsely negative, then this can be considered retaliation. It’s also illegal for your employer to refuse to provide a reference. An employee may also be retaliated against by their new employer.
One examples of this is in the Shakerdge v. Tradition Financial Services, Inc. Shakerdge complained of sexual and racial harassment. She was then fired, and she filed a claim with the EEOC for wrongful termination and retaliation. Shakerdge went on to apply and get hired for a similar job. After her first day at work, she was notified via text from HR that her offer was rescinded. Afterwards, a coworker informed her that the reason her offer was rescinded was because of her legal charges against her former employer.
Employers may retaliate by leaving someone out of meetings, training sessions, or social activities. Exclusion could come from a boss or coworkers. An avoidance of an employee can be considered retaliation if it has a material adverse impact on an employee’s terms or conditions of their employment. While in some cases, and employee may want to be left alone, for example if it is after charges of sexual harassment, other cases it can be seen as retaliation if it keeps an employee from being able to do their job or grow within their job. Exclusion may also be a result of an employer being overly careful to avoid retaliation by avoiding the employee.
Like it was mentioned earlier, social exclusion can also count as retaliation. If employees go out for drinks, food, or other social activities, but strategize about business plans, then one may be left out of significant job opportunities. Social events tend to be overlooked by employers, but it’s been shown that important bonds are made, information is shared, and decisions are made during these times as well.
5. Pay cut
According to Forbes, 46% report their hours or pay were cut as a form of employer retaliation. Ivet Hernandez, an HRA employee, requested $2,000 in rental assistance from her employer after getting evicted. Her requests were denied, and she went to the Daily News to tell them her story. Her employers responded by cutting her salary by $6,000. Her company claimed it was due to a clerical error, in which they found Hernandez was previously mistitled.
If an employee, after filing a claim, finds themselves being reassigned to a job with duties that are below their abilities, this may be seen as retaliation. The employer may relocate the employee, make it difficult to complete tasks, limit access to resources, and harshly critique results. Cherie Whitehurst, the former deputy superintendent of Bedford County Public Schools, filed a lawsuit against her employer, Doug Schuch for sex discrimination and retaliation. Whitehurst was reassigned by Schuch from deputy superintendent to principal of Liberty High School. Whitehurst refused and filed a lawsuit against Schuch. In response, Schuch, along with the school board voted to reassign her to the position of instructional coach. Reasons for the reassignment cited by Schuch were inconsistent with previous evaluations given by him. Whitehurst claims she was retaliated against for filing a sexual harassment claim, by being reassigned to the lower position. Here, we can see retaliation in the form of reassignment.
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As you can see, retaliation can be overt or subtle. If you feel as if you have been retaliated against, it’s time to get in contact with our retaliation attorneys here at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your case and get free legal advice. Our experience lawyers will help you build up the strongest case possible against your employer. On top of that, we will take on your case free of charge. We do not ask for any upfront fees and will only ask for a small fee if we win your case. This is your chance to punish your employer for taking illegal actions against you. If you have already discussed your case with an attorney, we’d still like to hear your claims. You can call our office to schedule a free second opinion. We want you to make the right decision with who will represent you in a retaliation lawsuit. Work with us, and we will do everything in our power to receive the most compensation possible for your harships.