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What You Need to Know About Retaliation at Work

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Employment Aug 31, 2018

coworkers watching someoneYou have a variety of rights as an employee. For example, unless you are exempt, your employer is required to pay you at least the federal minimum wage. You may also have a right to overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a week.

Employees also have the right to take action if they are denied minimum wage or overtime or their other rights are infringed upon. When employees file complaints, it is illegal for their employers to retaliate against them. If you are retaliated against for asserting your rights, you should consider contacting an experienced employment attorney in Maryland.

Why Do Employers Retaliate?

Retaliation is an illegal activity that occurs when an employer takes action in response to an employee who engaged in protected activities. Common examples of protected activities for which employers cannot retaliate include:

  • Filing a complaint about workplace discrimination or harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or human resources department
  • Cooperating in investigations or serving as a witness for someone else's complaint about illegal workplace conditions
  • Requesting a disability accommodation
  • Reporting sexual harassment
  • Blowing the whistle to expose an employer's illegal acts
  • Reporting an employer’s violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration or Family and Medical Leave Act regulations
  • Answering questions during an investigation
  • Resisting sexual advances
  • Asking employers about salary to discover discriminatory practices

If you believe that you may have been retaliated against for participating in these or other protected work activities, contact an employment lawyer to determine your rights.

Types of Retaliation

Retaliation is any negative action that an employer takes against an employee that affects the terms or conditions of employment. If an employer takes action that would discourage someone from complaining about the wrongful acts, it may be unlawful retaliation.

The clearest form of retaliation is terminating an employee for participating in protected activity. However, other forms of retaliation are also prohibited, such as demoting an employee or giving a negative performance review due to retaliation.

Other forms of prohibited retaliation include:

  • Being denied a raise or promotion
  • Being transferred to a less desirable position
  • Not being offered the same training or mentoring opportunities as other employees
  • Verbally or physically abusing an employee
  • Contacting immigration authorities to threaten the employee
  • Changing work schedules to conflict with other responsibilities
  • Being excluded from workplace activities, such as leaving the employee out of work meetings or work-related decisions
  • Being ignored at work
  • Terminating an employee for filing a sexual harassment complaint, even though the complaint was unfounded
  • Making negative comments about an employee who left the company for a new job

What You Need to Prove

Most employers will not specifically state that they have taken a negative action against an employee for the employee taking part in protected activity because employers know this is illegal. You will have the burden of showing the link between your complaint and the negative action that was taken against you.

You will likely need various forms of evidence to prove you were retaliated against, such as:

  • Emails, texts, memos or other written documents that discuss the triggering event that led to retaliation
  • Strong performance reviews that suddenly changed after you made the complaint
  • Statements from other employees who were similarly discriminated against or witnessed the retaliation

Contact an Employment Lawyer

If you believe that you have been wrongfully retaliated against, it is important that you contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn about your rights. Our skilled legal team can help evaluate the circumstances surrounding your claim and discuss your legal options during a free, no-risk consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there are no fees or costs unless we help you recover on your claim.

Contact us today to schedule your free case review.

Contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation if you have been injured by another’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation.

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