Retaliation claims continue to be one of the leading types of employment cases filed. In fact, statistics show that retaliation claims make up 48% of employment related discrimination cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Claims for retaliation may arise when an employer takes negative action against an employee who complains about discriminatory acts – such as sexual harassment, age discrimination or religious discrimination. Negative actions include, but are not limited to, passing over workers for promotions, giving employees worse shifts or moving them to an inconvenient location. They may even include actions affecting a worker’s family members or someone in their “zone of interest” (i.e. firing an employee’s spouse after complaints of harassment). Often, the retaliatory conduct is subtle, but is unmistakable to the worker.
If an employer retaliates against a worker for pointing out discriminatory actions (or being a witness in another worker’s lawsuit), the effect may be to deter others from coming forward. Thus, in order to root out discrimination, discrimination laws make it illegal for employers to take steps which may intimidate workers from reporting bad behavior. Further, retaliation cases may be viable even where the underlying conduct complained of – i.e. sexual harassment or racial discrimination – is not proven. Retaliation on its own is sufficient.
Unfortunately, although instances of discrimination have lessened in some work places, many employees are still frightened of coming forward and facing adverse consequences. As such, retaliation claims remain a powerful way to fight employers who try to dissuade workers from speaking up.
For more information or if you believe you may have suffered illegal retaliatory conduct, please contact the dedicated Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal LLP for an immediate case evaluation.