Unlawful Workplace Retaliation in Dallas, TX
What You Should Know About Workplace Retaliation
You are probably aware that laws exist to protect employees from unlawful harassment and discrimination. However, you might not be aware that the same laws also protect employees from retaliation for reporting or opposing unlawful harassment or discrimination. It means that your employer cannot punish employees from participating in workplace investigations or making harassment or discrimination complaints.
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What Is Workplace Retaliation?
Retaliation happens if an employer punishes an employee for participating in a legally protected activity. The punishment can include firing, failure to promote, refusal to hire, increased attention to the employee’s work, unjustified threats, salary reduction, refusal to hire, shift or job reassignment, and numerous other negative job actions by the employer.
Retaliation might be explicit, like termination, but it can be more subtle. If this is the case, you must consider the circumstances of the situation. However, as long as the adverse action of the employer would discourage a reasonable person from making a complaint, it is illegal retaliation.
Not all harassment is illegal. If you have reported that you are being sexually harassed, or that your boss has made racist comments about you or others, and then your employer demotes or fires you, that is unlawful retaliation. But if you report that your boss is mean or that your performance review was inaccurate or unfair, and then you are fired, that is not unlawful retaliation.
When Is Workplace Retaliation Prohibited?
To be unlawful, the retaliation has to relate to unlawful discrimination or harassment, which means it has to involve discrimination or harassment that is based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, or disability. If it involves these items, then you are protected from unlawful retaliation if you engage in what is called “protected activity.”
Protected activity includes:
- Protesting, opposing, or reporting unlawful discrimination or harassment
- Filing a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment against a current or previous employer
- Filing a charge of discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment
- Making informal complaints about unlawful discrimination or harassment to supervisors
- Participating in discrimination or harassment lawsuits, including as witnesses
- Cooperating with a government investigation of the employer
- Taking legally-protected FMLA leave
- Requesting a reasonable workplace accommodation for your disability
Retaliation and Workers’ Compensation
If you have been injured at work, and your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you may be entitled to file a claim to compensate you for your medical care and lost wages. You may also receive compensation when you have been cleared to return to work but your salary has been cut because of restrictions related to your injury. If, however, you are terminated, these benefits will end, which is why some unscrupulous your employer may seek reasons to wrongfully fire you after a workers’ comp injury or illness.
Employers cannot retaliate against you after filing a claim for workers' compensation or because your disability has put you on restricted duty at work. An employer cannot ask you to perform a duty it knows your injury or disability will prevent you from doing. Make sure your doctor is clear about what you can and cannot due as the result of your injury, and that your employer is aware of these limitations. If your employer purposely attempt to circumvent these limitations to find cause to fire you, you may have the right to seek damages through an unlawful workplace retaliation claim.
How Can You Tell Whether an Employer Is Retaliating?
It can be hard at times to tell whether an employer is retaliating. Retaliation is when an employer makes changes in the workplace that have a negative effect on your employment. It can come in the form of your employer suddenly micromanaging what you do, unfair and unexpected negative job performance review, or being suddenly excluded from staff meetings on a project that you have been working on.
What Can You Do if Retaliation Is Suspected?
If you believe that your employer is retaliating against you, first talk to a human resources representative or a supervisor to find out why the negative actions are being taken against you. You should ask specific questions and get everything in writing, if possible.
If the employer cannot provide a reasonable explanation, voice your concern of being retaliated against and state very clearly what protected activity you engaged in and that you believe the retaliation is related to. Remember, only protected activity can give rise to an unlawful retaliation claim. Your employer will probably deny it, but the reality is that they can do it without even realizing it. It is important to highlight the fact that negative action was taken after you complained.
If the employer is neither willing to admit any wrongdoing or do something to correct the problem, you should consider taking your concerns to the Texas Workforce Commission.
If you believe that you are a victim of retaliation in the workplace, you should consult with a Dallas workplace retaliation lawyer. A good lawyer will tell you how strong your case is, the amount of compensation you are likely to recover, and much more. However, you should know that the time frames within which to bring retaliation claims are usually short, so it is in your best interest to contact an attorney immediately. Matt has a long history of helping clients facing similar situations and can use his knowledge and experience to assist you as well. Learn more by reading testimonials, then contact our firm to discuss your situation.
“He was able to get it resolved early, which I appreciated. He kept me informed and up to date on everything. I strongly recommend him.”- D. Luna
Scott Law Firm PLLC is unique in its sole focus on protecting employees and their rights. Matt leverages his experience representing large companies, his well-earned reputation in local courts, and his tested legal acumen as a board certified attorney in employment and labor law to our clients’ advantage. Matt represents clients from all walks of life who have been unlawfully retaliated against for speaking out and asserting their rights. Proudly serving employees in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, you can trust in his expertise to help you seek the damages you are owed and prevent wrongful behavior from happening to others in the future.
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