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All You Need to Know About Retaliatory Discharge

March 26, 2019

The term “Retaliatory” is analogous to “revenge”. Retaliatory discharge is a legal term which refers to an instance when an employee is terminated by their employer for a reason that is unrelated to their work-performance. As per many state and federal laws, retaliatory discharge is considered as wrongful termination as it is illegal conduct. If you believe that you have been victimized by your employer, you should immediately seek legal counsel from an experienced employment discrimination lawyer to learn about your options and check whether you have a valid claim or not.

What Are the Elements for Proving Retaliatory Discharge?

Though laws pertaining to retaliatory discharge vary from one state to another, the employee must prove three points in order to make a successful retaliatory discharge claim:

  • The employee lawfully and rightfully opposed the discriminatory acts of their employer or took a part in “protected activities”.

  • The employee was harshly punished by the employer (demoted, terminated, fired, or otherwise).

  • There is a separate connection between the protected activity and the firing.

What Is a Protected Activity?

Primarily, there are two types of protected activities. First one is disagreeing with the employer’s discriminatory acts. For instance, an employee declines to fulfill their employer’s order to write a discriminatory or invasive note to a colleague. However, the employee must demonstrate that they had a valid reason to believe that their employer’s acts were prejudiced and/or unlawful.

The second type relates to the participation in court hearings or police investigations regarding the illegal practices of their protection. There are several statutes including the Whistleblowing Protection Act which provides protection to employees. Even though the results of the investigation are inconclusive, an employer has no right to terminate the employee and doing so will provide grounds for a retaliatory discharge lawsuit

Evidence Required to Prove Retaliatory Discharge

In order to succeed in a retaliatory discharge lawsuit, the employee must provide proof of the connection between the protected activity and their termination. This can be accomplished by providing circumstantial or direct evidence. The latter evidence may comprise of a verbal or written proof such as an E-mail, phone conversation, or letter showing that the employer fired you because you participated in protected activity. Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, may not be verbal or written but may comprise of employer’s pattern or previous history showing retaliatory discharge.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer

In most cases, it can be extremely difficult to prove a retaliatory discharge, especially if you only have circumstantial evidence and no concrete proof. Therefore, having a competent employment discrimination lawyer on your side is critical for a successful claim as they will navigate you through all the intricacies and complexities related to your claim.

Moreover, if you have a poor record of attendance or other issues related to work, the defense counsel may try to cite that as a ground for firing. Your employment discrimination lawyer will refute their claims by devising a strong case in your favor and presenting facts and evidence that will put you in a strong position.

If you want to know more about Retaliatory Discharge or want to schedule a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Michael Smith to talk with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer.