When you complained to your supervisor about discrimination did you find yourself at the receiving end of negative performance reviews? Were you terminated or suspended shortly after reporting sexual harassment at the hand of a co-worker? Is fear of retaliation preventing you from discussing workplace concerns with human resources? If so, you might have been retaliated against for reporting discriminatory behavior.

Houston employment lawyers Kalandra Wheeler and Robert J. Wiley represent Houston employees who have experienced workplace retaliation. In fact, retaliation is one of the biggest violations of law that our Houston office sees. What makes retaliation particularly offensive is the fact that in essence it is trying to silence those who have had the courage to take a stand against discrimination.

Retaliation is illegal under many different laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Texas Labor Code, American with Disabilities Act, and Age Discrimination in Employment Act are all examples of laws that specifically condemn retaliating against a worker that has stepped up and reported a violation of law.

As mentioned earlier, retaliation is one of the most common forms of discrimination found in the workplace. Generally, a retaliation claim has three basic elements: (1) the employee engaged in a protected activity, (2) the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee, and (3) the adverse action was the result of the employee engaging in the protected activity.

Many activities can satisfy the requirement of engaging in protected activity. Common examples of what has been considered protected activity include:
  • Making complaint about your co-worker sexually harassing you;
  • Requesting a reasonable accommodation for either religious reason or for a disability;
  • Filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC;
  • Participating in an investigation on behalf of a victim of discrimination; and
  • Refusing to do something outright illegal.
Second, you must prove that you have suffered an adverse employment action. An adverse employment action has been interpreted to mean such actions such as:
  • Failure to promote;
  • Failure to hire;
  • Termination;
  • Suspension; and
  • Being put on a performance improvement plan.
Finally, most cases of retaliation revolve around the third requirement. Was your engagement in a protected activity the cause of the adverse employment action? This is may also be the most difficult question to answer but there are several indications that help determine that inquiry. Questions that may help in determining this issue include:
  • Was your engagement in a protected activity shortly followed by the adverse employment action?
  • Was the actual stated reason for the adverse employment action your engagement in a protected activity?
  • Were you verbally warned about possible repercussions in reporting violations of law?
Being retaliated against is a horrible place to be. You have taken a stand against an injustice. As such, you should not be punished for wanting to rid your workplace of discrimination. The only way to defend not only your rights as a hard working employee but those of others is to step forward. You have already begun this journey. It can be difficult to step forward and take a stand and that is why you need a team of professionals that will be with you every step of the way.

For example, if you are only anticipating your employer to retaliate against it may be still a good idea to consult with one of our Houston attorneys. If possible we will make sure that your complaint is considered a protected activity. Additionally, the mere fact that an attorney represents you may make your employer less likely to retaliate against you. After communicating with your employer, and if they are not willing to resolve the underlying problem, we can then attempt to negotiate a severance package so that you are able to walk away from such a toxic environment.

Take Action

If you feel you have been retaliated against, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. There are many deadlines that require a quick turnaround. Depending on your case you have anywhere from 180 days to 300 days to report a retaliation to the EEOC. If you choose to contact us, you will generally meet with an attorney to discuss your matter. If we believe a violation of the law has occurred and if you decide to hire us, we will sign a representation agreement and enforce your rights.
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