Florida retaliation attorneys Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC point out that equal employment opportunity laws protect employees from unjust discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Employers are not legally allowed to punish employees for complaining about discrimination or acting in workplace investigations of such complaints. Punishment can include demotion, termination, denial of a raise, transfer to different position, etc.
Retaliation happens when an employer punishes an employee for conduct legally protected. Retaliation can be any obviously punitive adverse job action but also something more unclear. Occasionally, an employer’s action is clearly hostile, like a termination for no apparent cause, but sometimes not. In such cases, Florida retaliation attorneys say courts consider situational circumstances. As an example, a job shift transfer unobjectionable to most employees could be quite disturbing to a parent with children and an inflexible schedule. Florida retaliation attorneys also define retaliation as any adverse action that would deter someone in similar circumstances from making a complaint against unfairness.
Federal law protects employees from retaliation when they choose to complain either internally to their employers or externally to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about workplace harassment or discrimination even if the complaint proves to be unsubstantiated if nevertheless in good faith, according to Florida retaliation attorneys.
The law also protects employees who participate or testify in any EEOC investigation or litigation. A recent Supreme Court case ruled that employee participation in internal investigations is protected too. Federal laws protect whistleblowers who complain of unsafe working conditions. Some state laws can prohibit employers from retaliating against employees.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell. If an employee complains about harassment, the offending supervisor’s behavior may change. If the change makes the conduct less friendly but more professional, there is no retaliation. Only behavioral changes with adverse effects on employment are retaliatory.
But if something clearly hostile happens shortly after an employee complaint, like for example, demotion, Florida retaliation attorneys agree that there is good reason for suspicion. It’s important to note that not every retaliatory action is clear-cut or necessarily job-threatening. It may come as an unprompted and unfair disatisfactory performance review, micromanagement of everything the employee does, or sudden exclusion from staff conferences.
First talk to a supervisor or a personnel officer about the suspicion. Ask specific questions. The employer may have a reasonable explanation if a shift transfer was to an opening for which the employee once had applied, or a poor performance review may be justifiable for previous problems.
If there is no apparently reasonable explanation, express concern about the likelihood of retaliation, which the employer no doubt will deny, for employers sometimes retaliate unknowingly. Make the point that the adverse action occurred only after the complaint, and ask that it cease and desist. If the employer is unwilling to recognize or correct the problem, recourse to the EEOC or state government counterpart may be necessary.
As proof of suspected retaliation that the employer won’t resolve, there should be a link between the employee complaint or other protected conduct and the employer’s vindictive behavior. The more supporting evidence the employee can present, the better the claim of retaliation.
To build a case, document all arguably vindictive behavior. Compile a record of relevant facts preceding the employee complaint. For example, if the employer alleges poor job performance, be sure to produce any evidence of employer satisfaction with the employee’s work before the complaint.
For expert help in building and litigating a case of retaliation for protected conduct, call Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC at (727) 254-5255 for a free case consultation.
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