You Rights as an Employee
As an employee, you have certain rights, including the right to not be discriminated against or harassed at work because of your race, sex, age, disability, religion, and other factors. You also have legal rights to certain benefits of employment, depending on the particulars of your job. You have the right to a minimum wage, to overtime pay in many circumstances if you work over a certain number of hours a week, to unpaid time off for certain health issues, and more.
If you are ever denied those rights, you may choose to contact an attorney to enforce your rights, or to file a complaint with a federal or state agency. As you may imagine, an employer is usually not happy when it gets investigated for violations of state or federal law, or receives a call from an employment attorney. In some cases, the employer may decide to try to retaliate against the employee. However, this is illegal.
What is Workplace Retaliation?
Legally, retaliation occurs if an employer punishes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. Retaliation includes not only being fired – it includes any negative job action, such as having salary or benefits reduced, a job or shift changed, disciplinary actions, or being demoted. By law, employers cannot punish employees for making discrimination complaints or harassment complaints. Employers also can’t retaliate if employees participate in workplace investigations, including federal, state, local or internal investigations.
It can often be difficult to tell if an employer is retaliating against you. According to the Supreme Court, in order to determine whether retaliation has occurred in the workplace, you must look at all the surrounding circumstances of the situation. You may receive a cold shoulder as a result of participating in an EEOC investigation, but that alone may not be considered retaliation. However, if the cold shoulder has an effect on your employment, so that you are excluded from managerial meetings or are given a worse work shift, this could be considered retaliation. By law, if an employer’s adverse action would prevent a reasonable person in a situation from making a complaint, the action could be considered illegal retaliation.
Steps to Take After Workplace Retaliation
If you believe that you are the victim of workplace retaliation after making a complaint, there are some steps you should take. The first step is to talk to either your supervisor or a human resources manager. There may be a good explanation for why certain things have occurred – you may have been fired for chronic lateness rather than for filing a discrimination complaint, for example. If there is not a good explanation for the adverse actions taken against you though, you should tell your supervisor or HR manager that you feel that you are being retaliated against, and ask that the actions stop.
Contact Oakland Employment Rights Attorneys
However, in many cases an employer will deny that retaliation is occurring. In that situation, you may want to call an employment rights attorney or contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for help. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no employees should be retaliated against for exercising their legal rights.
If you believe you have been retaliated against in the workplace, contact Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay area. Call her today to learn more about your options.