Feeling safe in your workplace is something that every employee desires. A work environment that is free of negativity and offers adequate support will help employees thrive and be their best productive selves.
Dealing with discrimination and harassment in the workplace can adversely affect an employee’s morale and lead to poor work delivery. And sometimes, reporting these occurrences to a superior leads to further problems rather than solutions.
If you have found yourself facing worse working conditions, or suffering negative treatment after making a complaint about harassment and discrimination against you or another employee, then you may have an employment retaliation case. In this article, we will be looking at the meaning of employment retaliation and how an attorney can help you.
What Is Employment Retaliation?
Employment retaliation is a situation in which an employer takes negative action or metes out some sort of punishment against an employee for reporting what the employee considers to be harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
When an employee makes such complaints, they are said to be engaging in protected activity. Protected activities are essentially activities that employees may engage in without fear of retaliation by superiors or employers.
Examples of protected activity include speaking out against sexual harassment, informing the police of unlawful activities in your workplace, making a compensation claim, and serving as a witness in a case against your employer.
It also includes refusing to follow an order that would cause discrimination, taking a lawfully entitled leave, questioning your employer’s immigration policies, and complaining about an unsafe working environment.
Having adverse actions taken against an employee for any of the above activities constitutes employment retaliation. This retaliation could be in the form of termination of employment, reduced wages, or withdrawal of benefits. It could also be any other action that causes emotional and mental distress to the employee making them incapable of functioning optimally.
An employment lawyer typically handles cases of employment retaliation. A good employment lawyer will evaluate your case and then help you seek redress or compensation.
How an Attorney Can Assist You in an Employment Retaliation Case?
1. Schedule a Meeting
If you think that you might have a retaliation case, your first step is to schedule a meeting with a lawyer for employment law. Employment laws have their unique set of standards and procedures. And if these are not followed strictly, it might undermine your case.
Your employment lawyer will review the facts of your case and give appropriate advice on what steps to take. They would also let you know all the options you have for settling the case. This might include reaching out to your employer for a settlement before considering a lawsuit.
Your attorney will also prepare you ahead by letting you know how long a litigation might take and what it might cost you.
2. Have Evidence of the Retaliation
For your workplace retaliation case to be solid, you must be able to prove that it happened. Your attorney will not be able to do much without evidence. Proof could be in the form of witnesses, recorded phone conversations, emails, text messages, or visuals.
You should provide proof that you engaged in protected activity. You must also be able to show that adverse action was taken against you by your employer. And that both are connected. This might require you to provide evidence of similar activity by another employee without any repercussions.
The timing also matters. If the punishment suffered came immediately after the protected activity, then you might be able to tie them together. But if you’re receiving adverse actions a long time after the protected activity, then you may have a harder time proving that they’re connected.
3. Have Evidence of the Suffering Caused
In a retaliation lawsuit, resolution almost always comes in the form of monetary compensation called damages. For your lawyer to be able to help you recover damages, you must prove that you suffered an actual loss as a result of the Retaliation.
This could be loss of employment or wages or benefits. This might require you to provide pay slips. Or any evidence of benefits you previously had and evidence that you no longer have them.
For example, if you had access to health care benefits or insurance, and they have been cut, you would need to provide documentation showing your entitlement to this benefit and then provide receipts of you now paying for these previously covered services yourself.
4. Have Your Key Witness Ready
When you’re the one bringing a lawsuit, you are your most important witness. An employment lawyer will be evaluating you from the very first meeting checking to see how much of a convincing witness you would be.
This is because when you stand before a judge and jury, they will evaluate you in the same way whilst trying to decide whether or not your testimony is believable and whether or not to award you damages. So you must show credibility from the very first moment.
You must make a convincing and relatable witness. You must also make sure that you are coherent and consistent in your testimony. A presentable appearance and a calm demeanor will also work in your favor.
Facing discrimination and harassment at work or being denied benefits that you are lawfully entitled to can be distressing. It can affect your productivity at work and even how you deal with situations outside of work.
This experience can get even worse when you become the target of adverse actions and punishment as a result of making a complaint. But you must realize that there are laws designed to protect you. A good employment lawyer will help you seek resolution and compensation and make sure that you are protected from such occurrences in the future.
But you must make it easy for your attorney to help you. Having evidence of the retaliation and the suffering you faced and being a credible witness will go a long way in strengthening your case.