In the United States of America, discrimination and harassment at the workplace are prohibited under various federal laws and amendments—such as the Civil Rights Act of 1866, The First Amendment, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others. These laws grant any employee who experiences discrimination or harassment in the workplace the right to file a claim against their employer.
Unfortunately, these laws alone have not put an end to discrimination and harassment at work, and every year thousands of Americans file claims against their employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If you or a loved one has experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace, it’s recommended you contact an experienced Connecticut retaliation lawyer in your area to discuss your case.
Understanding retaliation claims
Unfortunately, it’s common for employers to take retaliatory measures after employees have filed claims against them or participated in an investigation. Although it is illegal under federal civil rights laws for an employer to retaliate against you for engaging in protected activities, there are many ways employers retaliate.
Listed below are some of the most common ways employers retaliate against whistleblowers:
- Making threats.
- Cutting their pay or hours.
- Terminating their position.
- Transferring them or demoting them without cause
- Suddenly changing the terms of their employment.
- Spreading rumors about them or continuing harassment in the workplace.
- Giving underserved negative evaluations.
If you believe that an employer retaliated against you unjustly, you should contact a knowledgeable retaliation attorney in Connecticut to discuss your case.
What is a protected activity?
The EEOC has declared certain activities to be protected—meaning, an employer cannot retaliate if their employee engages in these activities. These laws are intended to discourage employers from retaliating against whistleblowers after they speak up against discrimination or harassment. Unfortunately, they don’t always work and sometimes employees must file a retaliation claim.
To determine if you have the right to file a claim against your employer, you must first understand which activities are protected. The following activities are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
- Filing a claim with the EEOC, or being a witness in an EEOC complaint, investigation, or lawsuit.
- Rejecting sexual advances in the workplace.
- Intervening on behalf of another coworker to protect them from discrimination or harassment.
- Requesting certain accommodations for religious practices, or to accommodate a disability.
- Speaking with a boss or superior about an incident in the workplace.
- Participating or answering questions in a harassment investigation.
If you have acted in any of the above ways, and your employer has taken retaliatory measures against you because of your actions, you may have justification to file a claim.
How to prove your employer has retaliated against you?
Under Civil Rights statutes, any “materially adverse” action taken against an employee that could deter you from engaging in protected activity is illegal. However, while you are protected under the law from engaging in certain activities, proving a retaliation claim is not always easy.
If you feel your employer is retaliating against you for your involvement in a protected activity, there are three things that you must be able to prove to win your case.
The three things you must prove for a retaliation case include:
- You were acting under a protected activity.
- Your employer took negative action against you.
- Your employer’s actions were linked to your involvement in the protected activity.
The last point is especially important. It is not sufficient to prove that you acted under a protected activity and your employer acted against you. You must prove causation—that the two events were directly connected.
Causation can be one of the most difficult things to prove in a retaliation case. Since most employers do not admit to retaliating against their employees, it is up to you and your attorney to provide direct or circumstantial evidence.
How a knowledgeable attorney can help your retaliation case
Being retaliated against by your employer can make life difficult. In extreme cases, it forces people to leave their jobs. As the victim of retaliation, it can also be scary to file a claim against your employer or supervisor. That is why having an attorney to help you through the process and protect your rights can be greatly beneficial.
Below are some of the ways an attorney can help with your retaliation case:
- Proving knowledge. An attorney can help prove that your employer had knowledge about the protected activity you were engaged in. This is important, because if they were unaware then it is not possible to show retaliation was caused by your complaint or protected actions.
- Proving Causation. An attorney can help you gather evidence such as documents, emails, and witness testimonies to help you prove that the negative job action was the direct result of your involvement in protected activities.
- Timing. Your attorney can help you establish a timeline to demonstrate when certain events took place. For example, your attorney can help you show that the negative actions taken against you by your employer occurred after the complaint was filed or you took protected actions.
- Lack of other reasons. If your employer can’t provide any other reasons for taking negative actions against you, or the reasons are illogical, then you will have a stronger claim. An attorney can help you prove there were no other legitimate reasons for your employer to take the adverse action against you.
Keep in mind that retaliation claims have statutes of limitations. This means that you have a set period of time to file a claim after the retaliation has taken place.
Contact an experienced Connecticut retaliation attorney
At the law offices of Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau, we believe that no one in the workplace should be discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against for speaking the truth. That is why we’ve fought for over two decades to protect the rights of employees. We are proud to practice exclusively employment law and to defend employees and individuals who have been mistreated.
Over the years, we’ve helped many clients in Connecticut win claims and receive the compensation they deserved. If you or a loved one has been retaliated against in the workplace, give us a call today at (860) 246-2466 or contact us online to discuss your case.