The right to be free from retaliation is foundation of the protections provided by employment discrimination laws. The principle of the law is that an employment cannot take action against an employee who exercises the right to make a good faith claim of employment discrimination, or assist another employee who has made a discrimination complaint. An employer accused of violating a law, whether by a charge of employment discrimination or in some other fashion may not permit retaliation against the employee making the claim.
The law protects employees from retaliation from employers when the employee engages in protected activity. Protected activity can consist of informal complaints to management concerning discriminatory activity, writing critical letters, protesting against discrimination by industry or society in general, expressing support of co-workers who have filed formal charges, participation in anti-employment discrimination proceedings, or opposition to discriminatory employment practices.
There are two types of protection from retaliation. Employees are protected when they participate in certain discrimination proceedings or cases (known as the “participation clause”) and when employees oppose unlawful employment discrimination (known as the “opposition clause”).
Protected activity includes any situation where the employee opposes any unlawful employment practice (such as discrimination based upon age, race, sex/gender, religion, national original, sexual harassment or disability), or because the employee made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding regarding an alleged unlawful employment practice. An employer also engages in retaliation when an employer takes action against any employee for making a good faith request for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability.
To establish what the law calls a prima facie case of retaliation, an employee Plaintiff must establish (1) that the employee engaged in protected activity, (2) that employee suffered a materially adverse employment action (such as the termination of employment), and (3) there is a causal connection between the adverse action and the protected activity.
When only a short period of time separates protected activity and an adverse employment decision, temporal proximity (the timing) may provide evidence from which an inference of retaliation can be drawn. Courts look to temporal proximity as a measure of proof of a causal connection. In addition to timing, antagonistic conduct or animus can be used to support a finding of retaliation.
Any time you have made a claim against your employer, and faced retaliation or wrongful termination as a result; you should consult an experienced employment lawyer. If you are afraid that you will suffer, or have already suffered retaliation, you need an employment lawyer to advise you on your best course of action. We represent employees who have been subjected to retaliation. Call Abramson Employment Law at 267-470-4742 or contact us online to discuss your legal options.