Can I be fired for Reporting Discrimination, Harassment, or Whistleblowing?  Understanding Retaliation Protection Laws.

Retaliation for protected activity is wrong.  Complaining about, reporting, or opposing discrimination, sexual harassment, or many other illegal activities is protected by law against retaliation.

As long as the action an employee takes is in good faith (e.g, not intended mostly for some other or improper purpose) and based on a reasonable belief that the activity violates the anti-discrimination laws, it is illegal to retaliate against the employee.

Examples of Illegal Retaliation

It is also illegal to retaliate when a person reports or refuses to participate in unlawful activity that is not discrimination, such as opposing a failure to pay overtime, filing a claim for workers compensation for an on the job injury, complaining about workplace safety issues, refusing to defraud customers or the government, or refusing to violate – or reporting violations of – numerous regulatory laws which may be specific to particular workplaces, such as SEC violations, Sarbanes-Oxley, Mine Safety and Health Act, False Claims Act, and many other laws.  Exercising civil rights or performing civic duties (including jury duty) are also protected against retaliation.

Retaliation can include (but is not limited to):

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Suspension
  • Reduction in pay
  • Denial of promotions
  • Failure to hire
  • Denial of adequate staff to perform duties;
  • Support staff changes;
  • Frequent or undesirable office changes;
  • Refusal to assign meaningful work;
  • Unwarranted and unsubstantiated letters of reprimand or unsatisfactory performance evaluations;
  • Workplace harassment creating a hostile work environment
  • A supervisor or superior behaving in or encouraging coworkers to behave in a hostile manner toward the employee
  • A change in the physical location of the employee’s workplace or a change in the basic nature of the employee’s job, if either are in opposition to the employee’s expressed wish;
  • Retaliation against people closely associated with the employee (such as a spouse, favored co-worker, or associate) is sometimes also unlawful.

If you believe you have been retaliated against, or have questions about whether you need protection, give us a call.