Employees should be encouraged to come forward with complaints of workplace discrimination. Unfortunately, many employees don’t complain because of legitimate fears of retaliation from their employers. Texas and federal law protect employees from employer retaliation for filing a complaint about discrimination, harassment, or wage and hour violations. Most anti-discrimination laws include anti-retaliation provisions.
If you’ve suffered from workplace retaliation in Texas, it’s important you understand your rights. You may be entitled to compensation, including lost wages and punitive damages from your employer. The Dallas employment attorneys at Rochelle McCullough know how to hold employers accountable for unlawful employment retaliation. Contact Rochelle McCullough to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can advocate for you.
Understanding Unlawful Retaliation
Workplace retaliation happens when an employer or manager punishes an employee for taking actions unrelated to their job performance. Retaliation can be wrongful termination, a demotion, a pay cut, a transfer, reduced hours, and many other adverse employment decisions.
It’s far too common for workers to suffer retaliation from employers for reporting fraud, rejecting a coworker’s sexual advances, refusing to do illegal acts, reporting safety violations, or taking other steps that have nothing to do with job performance. Under Texas and federal law, employers may not fire an employee or otherwise retaliate against an employee for engaging in the following:
- Filing an EEOC claim of discrimination
- Complaining about workplace policies or working conditions
- Filing a discrimination claim with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
- Participating in a TWC or EEOC investigation
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation due to a mental or physical disability
- Reporting harassment, discrimination, or retaliation to an employer
- Participating in an investigation into an employer’s discrimination or sexual harassment
- Complaining about not receiving minimum wage or overtime
- Filing for or obtaining Workers’ Compensation benefits
- Taking or intending to take FMLA leave
- Acting as a legally protected whistleblower
- Reporting resident care abuses in certain assisted living, nursing, and medical care institutions
How to Prove Retaliation
Generally, proving retaliation claims require claimants to prove the following;
- You engaged in a protected activity, such as complaining about discrimination
- You suffered an adverse employment action, such as a shift change, demotion, or termination
- The employer’s action was retaliation for you engaging in a protected activity.
Suppose you have a good faith belief that what happened to you or another employee was discrimination, harassment, or violated another anti-discrimination law. You made a complaint based on your good faith belief. In that case, you can pursue a retaliation claim. Even if your underlying discrimination claim isn’t viable, you may have a successful retaliation claim if you can prove you believed it was and have been retaliated against.
Examples of Retaliation
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, “EEO laws prohibit punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including harassment.” The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination based on a person’s protected class, such as age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected classes. Some of the most common types of unlawful workplace retaliation include the following:
- Demotion in job duties
- Demotion by removing your subordinates
- Increased scrutiny
- Hostile work environment
- Pay cuts
- Isolation from meetings and other work events
- Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
- Reduced hours
- Spreading rumors about the employee to discredit him or her
- Transfer to a less desirable location or position
This isn’t a complete list of how employers can retaliate against you. There are many other ways employers can attempt to punish you for pursuing a claim. If you suspect you’re being retaliated against, it’s important to write down all types of retaliation and details about those incidents.
The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Attorney
Given the likelihood of workplace retaliation, hiring a workplace retaliation attorney in Dallas sooner rather than later is important. An employment lawyer can ensure your complaint to your employer through management, or the human resources department qualifies as a protected activity. Additionally, when your employer is notified that an attorney is representing you when you make your complaint, the likelihood that your employer will retaliate is lower.
By engaging a skilled employment attorney early on, you’ll also have more time to gather evidence and prepare a legal claim if your employer does retaliate against you. If you’ve already been retaliated against, it’s crucial that you take legal action quickly. There are very short deadlines for filing retaliation and discrimination claims. The longer an employee waits to take action, the more likely important evidence could be destroyed, and memories fade.
Compensation Available in Workplace Retaliation Cases
If your employer retaliated against you in violation of Texas or federal law, you may have the right to pursue a lawsuit seeking compensation for the financial damages you’ve suffered. Every case is unique, and speaking to an attorney can help you understand the potential value of your claim. You can pursue several types of damages through a retaliation claim. You can pursue lost wages for the back pay owed to you if your hours or salary were reduced or you were fired.
You can also obtain compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured because of the retaliation and damages for your reputational harm. For example, if the retaliation has harmed your personal or professional reputation, and you’ve missed out on future opportunities, you can pursue damages. When an employer engages in intentional retaliation, additional punitive damages may be available. Finally, successful plaintiffs can pursue attorneys’ fees and court costs. The total amount of damages may range from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the severity and length of the retaliation and its consequences.
Discuss Your Employment Retaliation Case with a Skilled Attorney
The Dallas employment attorneys at Rochelle McCullough have a proven track record of recovering compensation for victims of retaliation. We are prepared to fight for you if you’ve been fired, demoted, or experienced another adverse employment action because you filed a claim against your employer. Contact Rochelle McCullough to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney.