Under the law, employees are legally entitled to a number of protections in the workplace. You may have heard of legal protections against discrimination and harassment, but fewer people are familiar with the laws that protect against retaliation. Anti-retaliation laws mean that employees cannot punish employees for taking actions such as filing complaints, participating in workplace investigations, or refusing to engage in illegal activity.
Retaliation can take many forms. It can be firing or demotion, or other undesirable employment actions, such as being denied a raise, having a desirable shift taken away, or being denied training opportunities. If you have any reason to believe you have been subject to employer retaliation, please contact Stuart Higgins, Attorney at Law at (515) 619-9148 for a free consultation.
An employer may be retaliating if they punish an employee after the employee takes part in a legally protected activity, like filing a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint. Retaliation may take many forms, including but not limited to:
It is sometimes difficult to determine whether an action qualifies as illegal retaliation. Legally, an action can be considered retaliation if the employer’s reaction would deter a “reasonable person” from making the initial complaint. For example, consider that an employee knew they would be fired after making a discrimination complaint. Because this could deter a “reasonable person” from making the discrimination complaint in the first place, the act of firing can be considered retaliation.
On the other hand, if your employer is less friendly to you after your complaint, it likely doesn’t rise to the level of retaliation unless it interferes with your ability to do your job. A “reasonable person” would likely still file a discrimination complaint even if they knew their boss might be upset with them afterward.
Retaliation claims are complicated and highly dependent on your unique situation. If you feel in any way that you are being retaliated against after you file a complaint or engage in another legally protected activity, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney today to talk through your options.
Your first step in a retaliation case involving workplace discrimination is to file a claim with the U.S. Government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC). The EEOC or ICRC will help you try to resolve your dispute without a lawsuit. If you are unable to resolve your claim through the EEOC, you can ask the EEOC for permission to file a lawsuit against your employer.
Whether you resolve your claim through the EEOC or you file a lawsuit, you will be seeking compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of your employer’s retaliatory action. There are a number of damages that you may be eligible for, including lost pay, lost benefits, and pain and suffering.
While your compensation for lost pay and benefits will be commensurate with what you lost as a result of your employer’s retaliation, pain and suffering can be more difficult to measure. An experienced employee retaliation attorney can give you an idea of what employees in similar cases have won.
Damages for pain and suffering include compensation for the anger, embarrassment, reputational harm, and depression/anxiety that you may experience as a result of the retaliation. In order to be eligible for pain and suffering damages, your attorney may have a mental health expert evaluate you and testify in court about your mental state. We also recommend that you start a journal and document when and how your employer’s retaliation affects your mental state.
Here are some commonly asked questions about workplace retaliation. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Higgins Law at (515) 619-9148 for a free consultation.
If you suspect you are the victim of workplace retaliation, your first step should be to talk to a trusted supervisor or human resources representative. Ask for the reasons behind any recent negative acts, and ask specific questions. If they are unable to give you a reasonable explanation, you should tell them you feel you are being retaliated against. If they are unable to work with you or deny your claims, you should contact a lawyer about potentially filing a claim with the EEOC.
Sometimes, an employer may not even realize they are retaliating. Suppose you make a sexual harassment claim about your supervisor, and your company’s HR decides to reassign you to a different office while your complaint is investigated. Even if HR does this with good intentions, it could still end up being considered retaliatory if it hurts your job performance.
Retaliation claims can be very complicated. It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether or not your employer’s negative action rises to the level of retaliation. Even clear-cut cases of retaliation can lead to difficult legal battles. An experienced workplace retaliation attorney will know what you can expect based on your situation and will be there to support you throughout the legal process.
Workplace retaliation is stressful and exhausting. You already made the difficult decision to file a complaint, possibly about painful issues like discrimination or sexual harassment. You don’t deserve to be retaliated against for doing the right thing. Stuart Higgins is a highly experienced workplace retaliation lawyer and will do everything he can to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact him today at (515) 619-9148 to schedule a free consultation.