If you are being retaliated against in the workplace, you are not alone. In 2020, over 55% of all claims filed before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved retaliation. Most staggering, this statistic does not include all the instances of retaliation that have gone unreported. Understandably, many employees are afraid to speak out against their employer in fear of losing their job. This type of culture in the workplace should not be tolerated. We believe employees should feel safe raising concerns without fear of retaliation.
How to Recognize Employer Retaliation
In our experience, retaliation occurs most often after an employee reports safety issues like sexual harassment or an unsafe work environment. This is especially true with employers who place company profits over their workforce. Safety complaints can slow down production, be embarrassing to management, and bring unwanted attention from state and federal agencies. Rather than doing the right thing and fixing the issue, many employers choose to retaliate against the employees who strive for a safe workplace.
Retaliation can be as subtle as your supervisor making you work a less desirable shift or as blatant as terminating your employment. Other forms of retaliation include demotions, cutting work hours, reducing your pay, write-ups, suspensions, layoffs, job elimination, or creating a hostile work environment where you have no choice but to quit. In sexual harassment situations, an employer failing to take prompt and corrective action against the harasser can be retaliation. Along the same lines, an employer scheduling you to work with the harasser following your complaints of sexual harassment can be viewed as retaliatory.
What to Do If Your Employer Is Retaliating Against You
There are steps you can take if you feel you are being retaliated against. If coworkers are retaliating against you, you can report the retaliation to your supervisor. If a supervisor or management is the source of the retaliation, then you can alert human resources or utilize a company hotline to report the retaliation. If the retaliation does not stop, we recommend you contact an experienced workplace retaliation lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
West Virginia Laws That Provide Worker Protection
West Virginia has strong laws designed to protect workers who are being retaliated against by their employer. For instance, the West Virginia Human Rights Act safeguards employees from retaliation for reporting unlawful acts such as sexual harassment. Other protections include the West Virginia Patient Safety Act, West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, and violations of substantial public policy of West Virginia. If you are a public employee for the State of West Virginia, these protections may apply to you along with the West Virginia Whistleblower Act.
Some examples of protected acts under West Virginia law include:
- Reporting sexual harassment/hostile working environment;
- Reporting patient abuse;
- Reporting understaffing in hospitals or medical facilities;
- Reporting unsafe working conditions;
- Reporting unsafe driving/delivery conditions;
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim;
- Requesting accommodation for pregnancy or a disability.
If you have been retaliated against in the workplace, you may be entitled to lost wages, damages for the emotional distress you have experienced, and in some instances, punitive damages.
Let Us Be Your Employer Retaliation Advocate
At Bailess Law Firm, we take retaliation in the workplace seriously. We have a dedicated team committed to holding employers accountable who retaliate against workers. If you would like more information about your rights and protections, download our book It's Not Your Fault: How to Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and please do not hesitate to call us. Our team will listen to you without judgment. Please contact Bailess Law Firm for a free consultation by completing our contact form or calling us at (304) 413-1400.