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3 times workers may be at risk of employer retaliation

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | Employment Law |

In many ways, employers can use their discretion when managing relationships with workers. They can choose who to retain or promote based on factors ranging from job performance to seniority. However, there are certain types of conduct that are illegal when dealing with workers.

Companies generally have to observe certain rules about how they treat their workers. They should not allow harassment in the workplace or discriminate against workers for certain protected characteristics. Additionally, companies should not retaliate against workers by punishing them inappropriately. Employer retaliation could involve terminating someone’s job or demoting them.

Federal law very clearly prohibits retaliatory action on the part of businesses toward workers. However, the following are some of the scenarios in which an employee might face retaliation because an employer is either uninformed or is simply rolling the dice.

When acting as a whistleblower

A company that engages in illegal conduct typically does not like to have employees draw attention to that fact. If a worker informs someone within the hierarchy of command at the company about illegal behavior, that could lead to retaliatory actions by the business. Similarly, organizations might retaliate against those who notify regulatory officials of problematic practices within the company. Whistleblowers should have protection from retaliation.

When engaging and protected activities

Federal law has established numerous types of worker conduct as protected activities. Workers have the right to discuss their pay with each other and to organize by starting a union. They also have a right to make use of certain laws, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), when their circumstances warrant doing so. Companies should not punish workers for requiring workers’ compensation benefits or taking unpaid leave. Anyone who recognizes they need to engage in protected activities could potentially be at risk of retaliation.

When they address harassment or discrimination

Claims of retaliation are among the most common reasons for workplace discrimination lawsuits. Businesses should investigate appropriately and work with employees who have experienced harassment and discrimination on the job. Instead, many companies punish those who speak up for themselves.

It is possible to hold companies accountable for retaliation provided that a worker has proof of the rights they were exercising and has endured negative treatment from their employer ranging from demotions and termination to a transfer to a less favorable shift as a result of that exercise. Filing a retaliation-based employment lawsuit could help a worker overcome the hardship generated by a company’s misconduct. Employees generally need to know their rights if they hope to stand up for themselves against businesses successfully.