When is it Illegal for Your Employer to Retaliate Against You?

Acts of retaliation by an employer against an employee who engages in protected that is protected by the law are prohibited. To be considered retaliatory, an action must meet three criteria: it occurs after the employee exercises a protected legal right, the results are materially adverse for the employee, and there is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action taken.

What are protected activities?

Different statutes protect different types of activities. For purposes of employment statutes which prohibit discrimination based on a protected class, protected activities include any actions connected to or meant to facilitate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and its efforts to combat discrimination. This would include both internal complaints and opposition to discrimination to your employer, as well as external activities to oppose or complain about discrimination to a government agency, or as part of a lawsuit.

For purposes of Title VII, which prohibits discrimination based on characteristics such as race, color, national origin, sex, and religion, there are two types of protected activities an employee might engage in:

      • Participation – Participatory protected activities are those in which an employee takes an active role in prosecuting, identifying, corroborating, or putting an end to unlawful or discriminatory conduct by their employer. This may mean whistleblowing, filing a complaint, testifying, or assisting in any other investigatory or litigation efforts by the EEOC, the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), or other organizations.
      • Opposition – Oppositional protected activities are those in which an employee expresses, either implicitly or explicitly, their resistance to unlawful or discriminatory conduct by their employer. These activities may include complaining about conditions, informing coworkers of discrepancies in pay or other discriminatory circumstances, discussing unionization, certain public affirmations of opposition (such as picketing), and advising employers of the intent to file a claim, so long as the efforts are deemed “reasonable manners of opposition” rather than vindictive or retaliatory actions in their own right.

Other statutes which contain anti-retaliation provisions provide for similar types of protections.

How does engaging in a protected activity protect you?

The law makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against you if you engage in an activity protected by a statute. Thus, if an employer is aware that you engaged in a protected activity, you should be protected from acts of retaliation by your employer for that activity.

Furthermore, if your employer chooses to take retaliatory action against you on account of your engagement in protected activities, you will have the ability to pursue legal action and obtain a remedy for the harm that you have suffered as a result of the violation of your rights.

Consult an experienced employment attorney for help filing a retaliation claim in Connecticut

If you have engaged in a protected activity and want to learn more about your legal rights and protections, or are considering engaging in protected activity and would like to consult with a retaliation claims lawyer before filing a complaint or reporting wrongdoing, reach out to Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC for guidance. With more than 20 years of practice handling a wide range of employment law matters, our attorneys are here to advise you. To learn more about our services, call (860) 246-2466, or contact our law firm online.