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The Role of the West Virginia Human Rights Act in Employment Retaliation Cases

The Role of the West Virginia Human Rights Act in Employment Retaliation Cases

Reduced hours, undesirable shift assignments, increased scrutiny—if your employer has taken steps to make your job more difficult after you reported sexual harassment, discrimination, or safety concerns, you may be experiencing retaliation. This type of unfair treatment can leave you feeling trapped and helpless. Fortunately, West Virginia law prohibits retaliation in employment and provides protections for workers.

Here's what you need to know about the West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA) and how our caring and capable employment attorneys can help you fight back and hold your employer accountable.

About the WVHRA

Enacted in 1961, the WVHRA forbids discrimination in employment based on protected characteristics, including race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, and sex. Sexual harassment is prohibited under this law, as is retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the act. The WVHRA applies to public and private employers with 12 or more employees. If you've experienced discrimination or retaliation in employment, this law gives you the right to pursue an administrative or legal remedy.

Retaliation for Protected Activities

The WVHRA, as well as federal law, protects you from retaliation for asserting your rights against employment discrimination and harassment. Examples of protected activities include:

  • Reporting discrimination or harassment to a supervisor or manager
  • Filing a harassment or discrimination complaint or lawsuit
  • Participating in an investigation into workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Refusing unwanted sexual advances or intervening to protect others
  • Requesting reasonable accommodation for a disability or religious practice

However, these are far from the only activities protected by the WVHRA. The act protects opposition to practices that you reasonably and in good faith believe violate your employment rights under it.

Recognizing Retaliation in the Workplace

If you reported harassment or discrimination and have noticed a big change in the way you're treated at work, you might find yourself wondering if what you're going through actually constitutes retaliation. Fortunately, retaliation doesn't have to be as blatant as being fired in order to "count." Here are other examples of employer actions that could potentially be considered retaliatory:

  • Increased scrutiny
  • Reprimanding you without cause
  • Giving you an undeservedly poor performance evaluation
  • Subjecting you to verbal or physical abuse
  • Cutting your hours or pay
  • Transferring you to a less desirable position
  • Purposefully changing your work schedule to conflict with family obligations

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, any negative action that your employer takes to make your job more difficult could be possible retaliation.

Getting Help for Workplace Retaliation

In some cases, reporting retaliation to your company's human resources department or a complaint hotline can get results. If you've taken these steps and are still being subjected to unfair treatment, it's time to contact a skilled West Virginia employment attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.

How an Attorney Can Help You Hold Your Employer Accountable

Involving an attorney in your retaliation case sends a clear message to your employer that you're serious about your claim and won't be pushed around.

At Bailess Law Firm, we help clients facing discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in employment fight back and get the justice and damages they deserve. We'll thoroughly investigate your claim and work diligently to gather the evidence needed to build a strong case. In order to recover damages, we'll have to prove:

  • You experienced illegal discrimination or harassment
  • You engaged in a protected activity
  • Your employer took a negative employment action against you in response
  • You suffered some damages as a result

If we win your case, you could recover damages for lost pay, emotional distress, and more. Don't take workplace discrimination and retaliation lying down. Let the exceptional legal team at Bailess Law Firm stand up for you.

Request a Free Consultation

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, initial consultation to discuss your West Virginia employment retaliation case.

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