Proving Retaliation in the Workplace: Finding Evidence of Revenge
December 14, 2023
Generally speaking, retaliation claims are the easiest for juries to understand. It is human nature that if a person in a position of authority is challenged in any way, there is a chance they may choose to use their authority to punish the person who challenged them.
How can I prove retaliation?
The two major elements in any retaliation claim are:
- Proof of Protected Activity – proof that you, the employee, complained to someone specifically about the wrongful, unlawful conduct you were experiencing from a superior.
- Proof of an Adverse Action – proof that something significantly bad happened to you at work.
An example of protected activity would be an email to HR saying you believe a certain person is discriminating against you because of, for example, your gender and why.
An example of proof of an adverse action would be some official communication from your employer that they are diminishing you in some way. i.e. termination, suspension, demotion, cutting your pay rate, putting you in a less favorable working environment. You must have any specific example that documents you have been treated badly in a significant way at work.
The key piece of causation between these two elements is temporal proximity, i.e. closeness in time. The sequence has to be that you engaged in a protected activity for which you have evidence and within a matter of hours, days, weeks or (at the most) a few months, something significantly bad happened to you at work.
Why is retaliation unlawful?
Relation is an enforcement mechanism of the anti-discrimination statutes. The law recognizes it is important that workers be able to complain about unlawful treatment without fear of retaliation.
Retaliation is an equal violation of the law to discrimination. This means you are afforded the same panoply of damages if you prove your claim. Whether you are fired because your employer discriminated against you due to a protected category, or you are fired because of a protected activity (meaning you complained), the damages are the same. You are entitled to lost wages, emotional distress, and, in some egregious instances, punitive damages.
We at Filippatos PLLC stand in proud solidarity with all employees. If you have been a victim of retaliation at work, please give us a call at 888-9-JOBLAW for a free consultation. We will do our utmost to help secure you the justice you deserve.