Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee for exercising a legal right or engaging in protected activity. Though prohibited by both federal law and the West Virginia Human Rights Act, the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, the West Virginia Whistleblower Act, and the West Virginia Patient Safety Act, retaliation is one of the most common types of employment discrimination complaints.
Retaliation can take many forms in the workplace. While actions like termination or demotion are easy to recognize, other types of retaliation are more subtle and, as a result, potentially harder to spot.
At Bailess Law Firm, our team of dedicated West Virginia employment attorneys help workers hold employers accountable for unlawful retaliation. Here's what you should know about the various types of on-the-job retaliation and what you can do if you suspect you're being targeted.
Examples of Potential Workplace Retaliation
Not all negative employment consequences are retaliation. However, depending on the circumstances of the situation, the following actions could be considered retaliatory:
- Reducing your salary or benefits
- Reprimanding you for no reason
- Giving you an undeservedly poor performance review
- Subjecting you to increased scrutiny
- Transferring you to a less desirable position, assignment, or schedule
- Denying you raises or promotions
- Purposefully making your job more difficult
- Subjecting you to verbal or physical abuse
- Reporting or threatening to report you to authorities regarding immigration status
These are just a few of the many potential examples of workplace retaliation. If you're unsure whether your experiences constitute retaliation, discuss your case with our caring and capable employment attorneys.
The law protects workers from retaliation for exercising their rights or engaging in protected activity. However, if you're like most people, you may not have any earthly idea what “protected activity” is or what it looks like. Here are a few examples:
- Resisting unwelcome sexual advances or intervening to protect others
- Reporting sexual harassment, hostile work environment, or other forms of employment discrimination to a supervisor, manager, or human resources
- Filing (or being a witness in) a complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- Requesting accommodation of a pregnancy or disability, or for a religious practice
- Refusing to follow instructions that would result in illegal discrimination
- Participating in an employer investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination
- Requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Holding an Employer Accountable for Workplace Retaliation
Workers targeted for unlawful retaliation have options for holding their employer accountable, including filing a civil lawsuit. If you sue your employer, depending on the facts and evidence in your case, you may be able to recover damages for lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional distress. If your employer's conduct was particularly egregious, you may also be awarded punitive damages, which punish the defendant and seek to deter similar behavior. Obtaining a settlement or financial award requires proving the following
- You engaged in a protected activity
- You suffered an adverse employment action
- There is a causal connection between the first two points
Proving a causal connection can be challenging and requires an in-depth understanding of federal and state employment law. Our highly skilled employment lawyers can help you gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case.
Talk to Us About Your Workplace Retaliation Matter
When it comes to workplace harassment or discrimination, retaliation adds insult to injury. If you experienced or witnessed something illegal on the job and have been treated poorly by your supervisor or employer ever since reporting it, what you're going through may be retaliation. Fortunately, you're not alone and you don't have to suffer in silence. Compassionate, understanding, and skilled legal help is available.
Request an appointment to discuss your case with a member of our team. We'll review your case, help you understand your legal rights and options, and determine whether your case and our firm are a good fit. Contact Bailess Law Firm today to get started.