The California Labor Commissioner’s Office reported a growth in retaliation claims with five times as many in 2021 than in 2018.
In the workplace, employees have the right to speak out against unfair treatment, discrimination or unlawful practices without facing retaliation from their employers. It is essential to know how to establish a case if you believe you have experienced such mistreatment.
The first step is to maintain meticulous records of any incidents related to retaliation. This includes documenting the initial complaint or report you made, any subsequent adverse actions taken by your employer and any conversations or emails that may support your case. Having a clear timeline of events is essential.
Establish a causal connection
To prove retaliation, you must demonstrate a direct connection between your protected action, such as reporting misconduct, and the subsequent adverse actions your employer took. You can show this connection by proving the retaliation occurred shortly after your complaint or action.
Seek witness support
Collect statements or affidavits from coworkers who may have witnessed the retaliation or the events leading up to it. Their testimonies can provide valuable corroboration of your claims.
Gather evidence of adverse actions
Retaliation often involves negative consequences, such as demotions, pay cuts, reassignments or unjust performance evaluations. Collect any tangible evidence related to these adverse actions, such as written warnings, emails or memos, that suggest the negative changes were a direct result of your protected action.
Review company policies
Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies and procedures. Ensure that you followed the correct channels for reporting your concerns and that your employer violated their own policies in their response to your complaint.
Maintain a professional demeanor
Throughout the process, conduct yourself professionally and consistently. This includes meeting your job responsibilities, even if you believe there is unfair treatment occurring. A sudden drop in performance could be something your employer uses against you to disprove retaliation.
Consult with HR
Engage with your Human Resources department about your concerns. This demonstrates that you are making a genuine effort to resolve the issues internally and can be an important part of your case.
File a complaint
If internal resolution attempts fail, consider filing a complaint with an appropriate government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for investigating retaliation claims.
Proving employer retaliation is not an easy endeavor, but it is essential to protect employees’ rights and maintain a fair and just workplace. You have the right to stand up for yourself if you feel your employer is retaliating.