Proving Workplace Retaliation (and How a Lawyer Can Help)
Workplace retaliation is illegal on a federal level, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Per EEOC law, an employee or job applicant is protected from punishment “for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including harassment.”
As an employment law attorney, me and my team can help the citizens of Plano, Frisco, and Allen, TX, stand up for their rights. Let’s take a further look at what workplace retaliation is and how you can prove it.
What Is Workplace Retaliation?
Workplace retaliation is any form of retribution an employer takes against an employee for reporting workplace discrimination, harassment, or any other violation. Forms of retaliation or negative actions may include:
- Change in Pay - If your employer reduces or negatively alters your pay
- Change in Work Schedule - If your employer reduces or cuts your work hours altogether
- Demotion - Any reduction in employment position below what you maintained before the report
- Wrongful Termination - If you were fired
- Failure to Promote - You were denied promotions
- Poor Performance Reviews - Performance reviews are poor despite the quality of your work
- Unwarranted Disciplinary Action - Any disciplinary action taken against you, including warnings, suspensions, etc.
- Unreasonable Increases or Decreases in Job Duties - If you are given excess work or your workload is intentionally reduced without adequate cause
- Other Forms of Harassment - Forms of harassment may include physical, verbal, sexual, or other mental harassment, such as bullying.
Protected Employee Actions
Employees are protected from employer retaliation if they oppose acts of discrimination at the workplace, participate in an employment discrimination hearing, or make requests on behalf of themselves or other employees for disability or religion-related accommodations.
Employees and job applicants are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as several other expanded laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Protected actions include:
- Making a Sexual Harassment Claim
- Reporting Unsafe Conditions
- Reporting Discrimination
- Reporting Illegal Business Activity
- Filing for Workers' Comp
- Claiming Unpaid Wages
- Serving Jury Duty
- Reporting Violated Securities Laws
- Reporting Government Contact Fraud
How Do I Prove Workplace Retaliation?
In order to prove workplace retaliation, you must show evidence that you:
- Experienced or witnessed discrimination, harassment, or any other illegal activity or workplace violation
- Engaged in a protected activity such as reporting this activity
- Experienced retaliatory or adverse action against you by your employer in response
- Suffered some damage as a result
File an internal Complaint with HR and the EEOC
The first step to proving workplace discrimination is to file a complaint with your Human Resources Department and to contact an experienced employment law attorney like myself. Then, you must file with EEOC. Filing a complaint with the EEOC is a required step to filing a workplace retaliation lawsuit. I can help you do this, as well as help you collect any evidence to build your case.
Keep a Record of All Communication
Any evidence you can collect is crucial to proving you have been retaliated against. If you believe you are experiencing or have experienced retaliation in the workplace, contact an employment attorney and begin collecting evidence.
If possible, create a paper trail of communications. This includes any communications regarding your report and any communications regarding an investigation that is made in response to your report. Any emails or communications between your bosses, managers, and HR can be critical in building your case.
Performance Reviews and Other Records
Performance reviews can be a great piece of evidence for me as an employment attorney, particularly if you have a record of great performance and you receive poor reviews following your report of violation. Attendance records, as well as any other communications between you and your employer regarding your performance before and after your report, is extremely useful when building your case.
If you have been physically or mentally abused and had to seek medical treatment, please maintain all medical records.
Things To Keep In Mind During a Workplace Retaliation Case
While me and my team want as much evidence as possible to build your retaliation case, you must also be smart and careful about how you respond and react to possible retaliation. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Be Mindful of Recordings
Texas is a one-party consent state. That means (according to the Texas Law Library) “unless at least one of the parties to a conversation consents, both Texas and federal wiretapping laws make it a crime to record an audio conversation, either in person or over the phone, if the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy."
If you are recording conversations between yourself and your employer, legally, you are considered a consenting party.
Sometimes these recordings will not hold up in a court of law. While they may be useful as evidence, keep this information in mind if you choose to record. Also, do not attempt to record conversations while you are not a participating party, as this is illegal and can harm or even potentially damage your case.
Always Think Before You Speak
Be mindful of how you speak of your employer, even if you are terminated. When in doubt, just don’t say anything because your employer can possibly use this against you. The best thing you can do is simply contact my law offices and quietly collect your evidence. Let my team help you build your case.
This advice applies to both in-person discussions about your case and employer, as well as any posts made online or on social media. The best thing you can do is not post about it until after the case is closed, won, or settled.
Am I Entitled to Compensation if I Prove Workplace Retaliation?
The answer to this is maybe. My team must prove that you suffered some sort of financial loss due to the retaliatory actions you suffered. Financial loss may include:
- Decrease in salary
- Denied earned bonus
- Termination of employment
Need to Speak with an Employment Lawyer?
Contact My Law Office About Your Claim
If you have experienced workplace retaliation, it may feel overwhelming, especially if you are up against a larger company. As your attorney, I will fight for your rights. My employment law office in Allen, TX, proudly serves clients in Plano, Frisco, and Allen to help ensure that employers and companies adhere to federal and state laws. I will also fight for compensation if you experience financial reactions such as termination, and I work on a contingency basis. I do not get paid unless you do.
Get started today. Contact my office to request a case review.
Dan A. Atkerson
Dan A. Atkerson has worked as a civil employment law attorney in DFW since 1984. He has extensive knowledge of state and federal labor statutes and is a member of both the State Bar of Texas and the Dallas Bar Association.