Have You Been Retaliated Against for Speaking-Up?
Federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibit unlawful employment termination based on sex, sexual orientation/gender identity, pregnancy, race/color, national origin, religion, disability, and age. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their FMLA rights.
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee because the employee engages in legally protected activity. Retaliation can also take the form of any employer action which could dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination.
Under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, employees must file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory action. This is a strict deadline. You will lose some of the most important federal claims available to you if you do not file a charge with the EEOC. If you have already missed the deadline, it is still important to reach out to an attorney to discuss your options.
Protected activity includes but is not limited to the following:
- Reporting or complaining about discrimination to a member of management
- Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others from harassment
- Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- Requesting an accommodation for a disability or a religious practice
- Requesting or using FMLA leave
- Answering questions as part of an employer’s investigation of discrimination
- Opposing illegal discrimination against another employee
- Filing a complaint, EEOC charge or lawsuit against an employer for discrimination
- Acting as a witness in an EEOC charge, complaint, investigation or lawsuit for discrimination
Examples of retaliation when employees assert their rights:
- Termination from employment
- Demotion or transfer to a less desirable position
- Disciplinary action
- Reduced authority
- Significant Change in Job Responsibilities
- Unwarranted or increased scrutiny of job performance
- Performance review that is lower than it should be
- Denial of a promotional opportunity
- Denial of a training opportunity
- More difficult work schedule or working conditions
- Spreading false rumors about employee
- Interfering with job performance or making work more difficult
- Reduced pay or bonus
- Loss of a pay raise or bonus
- Humiliation in front of others
The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) also prohibits covered employers from retaliating against an employee for exercising rights under certain state laws. Many REDA cases involve employees who were discharged because they filed Workers’ Compensation claims, claims for violations of OSHA, and claims for violations of wage and hour law. There are a number of other state laws covered under REDA as well. Exercising a right may include filing a claim or complaint, initiating any investigation, inspection, inquiry, proceeding or other action, or testifying or providing information to any person with respect protected activities covered by REDA.
If you suspect that you have been retaliated against for exercising your workplace rights or for reporting or opposing unlawful behavior, contact Rich Daugherty. If you are still employed and in fear of losing your job for an unlawful reason, it is critical that you seek legal counsel immediately. There are things you can do now that will be essential to protecting your rights. Rich is experienced in representing clients who have been victims of retaliation in the workplace and will fight to protect your rights.
You can arrange for an initial phone conference with Rich at no charge. He represents clients throughout North Carolina and is available to meet with prospective clients outside of Chapel Hill when circumstances permit. Evening appointments are also available.