In general, retaliation in the workplace can involve any adverse action taken by an employer against an employee who has made a complaint with respect to harassment, discrimination, or other violations of employment law. Your Cincinnati employment lawyer knows employers are not permitted to impede or discourage employees from taking part in any investigations related to such issues, no matter whether the investigation is conducted by a governmental entity or an in-house investigation team. Employment retaliation consists of three components: a protected activity, a covered employee, and an adverse action.
So, what is a protected activity? Protected activities include acts such as threatening to file discrimination charges against an employer, confronting a supervisor about discrimination in the workplace, refusing to obey an order discriminatory in nature, taking part in a strike, and being an active participant in an investigation. Such activities will be protected if the employee is opposing discrimination against him or herself, or a fellow co-worker, and the employee has a “reasonable, good-faith belief” that the actions being complained of are against the law.
With respect to “covered employees”, such employees can be those who have taken part in proceedings regarding alleged employment discrimination, have expressed opposition to unlawful workplace practices or sought accommodations with regard to discrimination at work based on one’s age, race, color, etc. Your Cincinnati employment lawyer will tell you people who have pointed out violations related to issues other than employment discrimination will not be deemed “covered employees” for purposes of employment retaliation laws.
Some individuals may not have a complete understanding of what can be considered an “adverse action”. Covered employees should be aware that adverse actions can include employer acts such as threatening to fire or firing an employee because of his or her opposition to workplace discrimination, refusing to hire an individual or failing to promote an employee, and increasing surveillance on an employee. Making negative remarks about an employee’s performance (if they are justified) are not prohibited, and if an employer elects to ignore a worker, the law does not prohibit that action either.
Additionally, covered employees cannot be retaliated against if they participated in a protected activity against a previous employer. This means the individual’s current employer cannot retaliate against the employee for pursuing charges against his or her former employer.
Some employers may try to defend against retaliation claims by arguing any adverse actions taken against an employee were not caused by a protected activity of the employee. It can be very difficult for an employee to prove causation in retaliation cases, which is why any individual who believes he or she has been retaliated against should work with a skilled employment attorney who is well aware of the complexities of employment discrimination law.
Some employees who have been fired might automatically see their firing as being “retaliatory” against them for a number of reasons. However, employees should remember: If there is no discrimination involved and they are simply not performing their job duties up to an employer’s expectations, they can be terminated.
If you believe you have been retaliated against by your employer after bringing charges against the employer for employment-related discrimination, contact a Cincinnati employment lawyer as soon as possible at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A.