In a professional environment, employees should be free to work without fear of discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
When an employer takes negative action in response to a worker exercising their legal rights, things can get ugly. Contact a San Diego workplace retaliation lawyer to discuss your situation.
What is Workplace Retaliation?
Retaliation is an employer taking a negative action against a worker for exercising certain rights. This could include firing someone for filing a whistleblower claim, reporting sexual harassment, filling out a jury duty, fulfilling a legal obligation like taking a leave of absence or testifying on behalf of another employee, or simply complaining about illegal working conditions.
Workplace retaliation also includes more subtle types of revenge, such as demoting someone, docking their pay, changing their schedule, or harassing them or placing them under increased scrutiny. Fortunately, retaliation claims are often part of larger labor law lawsuits or government investigations, such as qui tam whistleblower claims, employment discrimination, minimum wage/overtime violations, and/or sexual harassment.
If your employer is retaliating against you, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible in support of your case, such as documentation, witness statements, and any email communications between yourself and your employer prior to the retaliatory action. It’s also helpful to consult with a specialist San Diego workplace retaliation lawyer who can review your claims and help you gather additional evidence as needed.
How Do I File a Claim for Workplace Retaliation?
If an employer retaliates against an employee for exercising workplace rights, the affected worker can file a lawsuit. Some state and federal anti-retaliation laws require that the affected employee first report their concerns to human resources. Others, like Title VII, mandate that the individual file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC before taking further action.
While a firing might be an obvious form of retaliation, other types can be more subtle. For instance, if an employer demotes an employee by assigning them to a less desirable job or shift, this can also be considered retaliation.
Other forms of retaliation may include giving an employee a lower performance evaluation or passing them over for a promotion. Moreover, an employer can punish an employee by changing their work schedule so that it conflicts with family obligations. It’s important to document any negative changes in your working conditions as well as any historical information that proves your employer was treating you fairly before you filed the complaint.
What Damages Can I Seek in a Workplace Retaliation Case?
Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to recover compensatory and punitive damages. These are damages intended to punish your employer for engaging in particularly egregious misconduct.
You can also recover compensation for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the retaliation, including job search costs, financial losses due to lost wages, and emotional distress. You can also recover the wages you would have earned if you were reinstated to your old position, known as back pay.
If you notice that your supervisor or coworkers are suddenly avoiding you, that they are making it more difficult for you to complete your duties, or that they have changed your job tasks in an attempt to force you to quit, this could be an indicator of workplace retaliation. You should also review any written communications you have with your supervisor or company about any concerns you raised in the past as these documents could be valuable evidence in your case.
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights?
A San Diego workplace retaliation lawyer could help a victim recover compensation for the losses caused by their employer’s unlawful conduct. These compensation claims are known as “damages.” Damages could include back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages and in some cases punitive damages. An experienced attorney could also protect a client from any further retaliation by seeking injunctive relief and protecting evidence.
Workplace retaliation claims can be complex, as they involve employment laws at the state and federal level. An experienced attorney will know how to navigate these laws and determine which ones apply in a specific case.
In some cases, a worker may file a claim directly to the government agency that enforces employment laws. However, this option can be complicated and time consuming. It is also possible that the worker’s attorney will file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the client under the False Claims Act. In either situation, a skilled attorney will analyze the law and decide on which course of action is best for their client.