In certain circumstances, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee and are also prohibited from retaliating against them for taking certain protected actions. It is helpful for employees who believe they have been retaliated against to be familiar with what is considered retaliation under the law and what protections may be available to them.
Establishing a claim for retaliation
There are several elements for establishing a claim for retaliation including:
- The employee must demonstrate that they were engaged in a protected activity which might include opposing an employer’s illegal discrimination, participating in an investigation into the employer or reporting the employer for illegal activity.
- The employee must have suffered some type of punishment such as losing a promotion, being denied benefits, being demoted or being terminated.
- The employee must demonstrate that the punishment they suffered was a result of their participation in the protected activity.
There are two broad categories of protected activity that may make it illegal for an employer to fire an employee who has engaged in those activities. The first category is if the employer reports unlawful or potentially unlawful behavior on the part of the employer. The second category is if the employee participates in an investigation into unlawful or prohibited behavior on the part of the employer.
Examples of unlawful activity an employer may engage in that an employee may be protected for reporting can include discrimination, taking qualifying leave or violations of certain laws, as examples. Employment law provides critical protections for employees to keep their job protected and safe. Because so many employees rely on their job and the security it provides for them and their families, these are essential protections to be familiar with.