Laws protecting employees from workplace discrimination are incredibly important to providing safe, friendly work environments for all Americans in the workforce. However, providing additional laws that prevent any employer from unfairly punishing them because they filed a complaint, assisted an investigation, or didn’t fall in line with a supervisor’s lie in order to protect them may be just as important.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace retaliation “is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination in the federal sector and is the most common discrimination finding in federal sector cases.” However workplace retaliation can happen anywhere, from a Burger King in Cambridge to a white collar investment firm in New York City.
If protection didn’t exist for those who call out obvious acts of discrimination, misconduct and other, more illicit activities, then those kinds of behavior would go on, unreported and indefinitely, because the individual or individuals committing the misconduct may be in a position of power over the individual or individuals who they are tormenting.
People will endure a lot of suffering if they have few options for employment and need to be paid each week in order to keep up with bills and other expenses. Unfortunately, many times people who have the most to lose if they are fired from their jobs are the ones who are more likely to be discriminated against in the workplace – such as disabled individuals and immigrants of minority races or religions.
The protections offered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ensure that, even if you are filing a complaint against a direct supervisor or somebody much higher up the workplace hierarchy, that you may not be punished, demoted, lose benefits, have hours cut, or be otherwise negatively impacted as a direct retaliation to your complaint.
These protections don’t just apply to complaints either. Protections against retaliation exist in the cases of:
- Calling for an investigation, being a witness in a case or filing your own lawsuit
- Communicating with a manager or supervisor about discrimination happening in your place of employment, including harassment
- Answering questions during an investigation into alleged harassment
- Refusal to follow orders that could be deemed as a discriminatory action
- Resisting sexual harassment or advances, or preventing somebody else from being sexually harassed
- Requesting a special accommodation to alleviate a disability or for a religious practice
- Asking your managers or co-workers about salary information to assess if there is wage discrimination occurring.
It is important to note that employees are only fully protected from retaliation due to their participation in a complaint process – whether it is the actual filing of a complaint, participating in an investigation or being a witness in a hearing. Employers may still discipline or discharge an employee if they can provide a non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory reason for doing so.
If an employer does not find a legitimate reason to fire an employee, they are still not allowed to engage in any actions that would discourage that employee or any other employee from filing a complaint in the future.
Such behavior could include reprimanding or humiliating the employee in front of other coworkers, transferring the employee to a “less desirable” position, physically, verbally or mentally abuse the employee, threaten to report them to outside authorities (like immigration or the police), spread false rumors about them or make their work life more difficult (such as scheduling them during known family conflicts).
If you were wronged, retaliate legally
If you or anybody you love has been negatively impacted at work, in any fashion, as a direct retaliation to filing a complaint or assisting in an investigation, then you have an excellent case to file a lawsuit against that employer.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience ensuring that employers who think they are above the law are forced back into reality, and in reality you aren’t allowed to punish or fire an employee simply because they reported your wrongdoing.
We have the legal prowess and experience to go through the details of your unique case and counter any claims that your employer may try to make that you were punished or fired for other reasons. A consultation with one of our attorneys is free, and we don’t collect any payment unless your claim is successful.
Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.