RETALIATION AND WHISTLEBLOWING
Employees who complain about or oppose discrimination and unpaid wages, exercise their rights to certain benefits (such as under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workers compensation laws), or report unlawful activities, sometimes find that their workplace takes a turn for the worst. It’s called retaliation, and if it happens to you contact an experienced employment attorney at Swartz Law for help.
Retaliation at Work
State and federal laws prohibit retaliation at work in multiple contexts. Your employer may not take ‘adverse action’ against you, for example harass, demote, reassign, or terminate you, for engaging in protected activity. Protected Activity in the discrimination context may include:
- Complaining about discrimination against yourself or another employee
- Filing a complaint of discrimination
- Opposing discrimination or assisting another employee in doing so
- Participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit
- Refusal to participate or assist your employer to discriminate
Protected Activity also includes complaining about or opposing a failure to pay your wages, for misclassifying you as an independent contractor, or for exercising your rights to reasonable accommodations, unemployment benefits, medical and other leaves.
If you report or refuse to participate in activities at work that violate the law, you may be deemed a whistleblower as well as protected against retaliation. Laws with ‘whistleblower protections,’ such as the False Claims Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, may entitle you to receive a portion of any monies recovered by the government against a company found guilty of committing fraud or performing other illegal activities you report.
How you Complain is Key
Your employer must know of your protected conduct (i.e. your complaint or opposition) for a retaliation claim to exist. Under some laws, such as in the discrimination context, complaints are sufficient if made in a variety of ways (verbally or in writing, internally or to an outside agency such as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)). Other laws require you to take specific steps to invoke protection under the law’s retaliation provision or to be entitled to a portion of funds recovered under whistleblowing provisions. If you do not take the required steps, you may not be able to bring a claim or share in the recovered funds.
Enforce Your Workplace Rights
If you believe you are being retaliated against or you are a whistleblower, you need to consult with an employment lawyer experienced in handling such claims. Attorney Tara Swartz has handled countless retaliation claims over the years. She understands the complexity of the applicable law and can assist you in rectifying your work environment or to obtain compensation if you were unlawfully terminated.