If you were discriminated against in the workplace and took action or reported illegal conduct on the part of your employer, the law prohibits your employer from retaliating against you. Despite this protection, many employers still seek to punish employees who stand up for their rights and, surprisingly, more than a third of discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within the past few years included retaliation claims.
When filing a lawsuit against your employer for retaliation, these elements must be proven:
- The actions you took were legal and protected
- You were subjected to negative actions in the aftermath
- A causal link exists between the actions you took and the actions your employer took
The final point is the most difficult to prove and will require a great amount of evidence to support it.
Once you have shown the activity you engaged in was protected and your employer took negative actions against you, the link between these two events must be shown. For example, if you filed a complaint with human resources personnel, and were later laid off with the rest of your team as part of a cost-cutting measure, proving the causal link between the two actions would be difficult since the events are unrelated. Unless you have direct evidence, such as an incriminating statement your employer made, you and your attorney will have to gather indirect evidence that proves a causal link. This includes addressing the following:
- Timing: Did the negative actions of your employer occur right after your own actions? If so, this is one of the more common ways in which you can prove retaliation.
- Knowledge: If the person who took action against you was unaware of your complaint, you might not be able to prove retaliation since you cannot show he or she acted as a result of your complaint.
- No Other Explanations: Sometimes there might be other reasons for why an employer took action, so it must be proven that there was o other reason for it other than retaliation. If you suffered a pay cut after filing your complaint, but no one else in the department suffered this, it will appear as though you have been targeted. If everyone else in the department took pay cuts as well, it might seem unrelated to your complaint.
Representing Workers in Chicago
If you believe you have been retaliated against by your employer for reporting discrimination or other illegal conduct, our attorneys may be able to help. At The Prinz Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you seek the resolution you deserve.
Contact us today at (312) 212-4450 for a free consultation.