An employee who makes a
formal complaint about discrimination or harassment is protected from retaliation by their
employer. Companies are not allowed to punish their employees for enacting
their labor rights. Although there are laws in place to protect workers
from employer retaliation, more than 1/3 of discrimination charges filed
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for
acts of retaliation from employers.
In order to prove employer retaliation, you must establish the following things:
- What you did is a protected activity.
- Your employer took negative action against you
- A causal link between your activity and the action your employer took against you
What Is Considered Protected Activity?
Title VII, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Americans
with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibit
retaliation against employees who partake in "protected activities."
There are two kinds of activities that are protected under the law:
Opposition: Workers who oppose illegal acts are engaged in a protected activity. This
protection extends to participating as a witness in an internal investigation
of a complaint and refusing to go along with a discriminatory request.
Participation: Filing a charge of discrimination, assisting with an agency investigation,
and being involved in a discrimination lawsuit are actions that are protected
from employer retaliation.
What Is Considered a Negative Action?
An employer’s action can be considered negative if it would deter
a reasonable employee from making a complaint or otherwise engaging in
a protected activity. The following are examples of “materially
- Salary Reduction
- Negative Evaluations
- Change In Job Assignments
- Change In Job Duties
- Change In Shift
- Change In Other Terms & Conditions of Employment
Employer retaliation claims require an employee to prove more than the
fact that their activity is protected. The negative job action and the
employee’s activity must be connected. If the employer’s adverse
action is completely unrelated to the employee's complaint, there's
no retaliation. Employees can use the following types of indirect evidence
to prove an act of retaliation:
Timing: Retaliation looks more likely if the adverse action happens right after
the employee makes their complaint.
Knowledge: An employee must show the employer knew about the complaint or protected
activity before the adverse action was taken.
Lack of Other Explanation: An employee can try to show that the employer had no other reason for
taking the adverse action, or that the stated reason for the action doesn't
Are you facing retaliation from your employer or other people at your workplace?
We can help. Contact our San Antonio workers’ compensation lawyer
to talk about your case today.