Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Making a Claim?

Employer retaliation is the most common issue reported to the EEOC, with over 44% of all complainants alleging that they experienced some form of retaliation. Whether you’re citing sexual harassment or racial discrimination, your employer is forbidden to retaliate against you by docking your pay or terminating you, under multiple federal and state laws.

Of course, despite the fact that retaliation is illegal, managers still choose to engage in this unethical behavior nearly every day across the Golden State. At Habbas & Associates, our workplace discrimination attorneys believe in justice, and will fight on your behalf if you’ve experienced employer retaliation.

In this post, we’ll discuss what retaliation typically looks like – and how you may be able to fight back with the help of our legal team.

What Does Employer Retaliation Look Like?

Under several federal laws, certain activities are classified as “protected” from employer retaliation, such as job termination and other adverse effects. It doesn’t matter if you’re serving as a witness in someone else’s harassment claim, making a claim yourself, or simply reporting discriminatory events to HR professionals: These are all considered protected activities under the law.

Retaliation isn’t always an immediate termination the day after you file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however. Rather, most alleged victims report that retaliation was a slow and methodical process on part of their manager and other employees at the company. By creating a hostile working environment and subtly reinforcing that the complainant has “betrayed” the company, company leadership may hope to edge you out of your job altogether.

Here are some of the main forms of retaliation that you may encounter:

  • Termination without warning, even when your performance is consistently high
  • Internal disciplinary actions
  • Reduction in your take-home pay or annual salary
  • An unauthorized transfer or team change
  • Change in job duties, shift, or other terms of your employment
  • Unsubstantiated negative reviews of your performance
  • Hostile working environment, including derogatory comments from bosses and coworkers

Proving Your Retaliation Claim

If you’ve experienced one or all of the signs listed above, you could be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the company for committing illegal retaliation. However, when confronted with the legal department of a major company, it can often be difficult for plaintiffs to gather hard evidence of retaliation without facing further scrutiny.

In order to substantiate your claim, you will need to show that you:

  • Participated in a protected activity
  • Experienced adverse job actions from your employer
  • Have proof of a causal link between 1 & 2

Although it may sound easy to prove these 3 elements, the final piece – proof of a causal link – can be notoriously elusive for plaintiffs to uncover. To make things more complicated, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that employees must establish a “but for” clause in their retaliation claims. That means employers have broad leeway to claim that their actions were prompted by other motives, such as corporate restructuring or poor performance.

Powerful Advocacy for Employer Retaliation Lawsuits

This is where a skilled attorney can really help to make your case successful, and allow the truth to come forward. Because our attorneys at Habbas & Associates have over 175 years of combined legal experience, both inside the courtroom and out, we can serve as advocates for your case, and pursue the fair outcome that you deserve. If there is clear evidence of employer retaliation, we’ll commit all our resources to helping you find that evidence, and give your voice the chance to be heard.

Call (888) 387-4053 today to speak with our San Jose attorneys!

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