Employment retaliation laws are meant to protect employees who exercise their rights to complain about unlawful employment discrimination or requests to participate in legally protected activities. Employment retaliation occurs when a boss, manager or supervisor makes people afraid to complain or to assert their rights by taking adverse actions against those employees that have already asserted those rights. Essentially, many employers will take the approach that if one employee is punished, the rest of the employees will not complain or exercise their legal rights for fear of suffering the same adverse action.
There are essentially two types of retaliation claims, oppositional and participation-based retaliation.
Let’s start with oppositional retaliation. Most employees are aware that under the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Ohio Fair Employment Practice Act, employers cannot discriminate or harass employees on the basis of their race/color, religion, sex /gender, or national origin. Likewise, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prevents discrimination and harassment based on an employee’s disability or perceived disability. And, age discrimination is unlawful under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and under Ohio law at R.C. § 4112.02(N), R.C. § 4112.05, and R.C. § 4112.14. But, these laws do not stop at discrimination and harassment of employees. They also make it illegal for bosses, managers, and supervisors to retaliate against any person because that person opposed an unlawful discriminatory action or practice, made a complaint about discrimination, testified regarding such conduct, or assisted in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing related to complaints of discrimination.
It is important to recognize that these laws do not only protect the employees that fall within the designated protected class, but any person that opposes discrimination on the basis of a protected class, as well as those employees who participate in any investigation to complaints or opposition to alleged discriminatory conduct. As such, a White co-worker who reports a manager’s racial discrimination against a fellow Black employee would be protected from retaliation under these laws. Similarly, a 32 year old manager that refuses to terminate two 50+ year old employees to replace them with younger workers has engaged in protected activity and is legally protected from retaliation. And, a woman that sees and reports a boss sexually harassing another woman cannot be fired, demoted or have any adverse action taken against her.
Participation Based Retaliation
Participation based retaliation occurs when employees engage in legally protected activities and are retaliated against by a boss or manager because they did so. These participation based anit-retaliation laws can be found in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), and Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Retaliation laws (see R.C. § 4123.90). Under these laws, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee that has chosen to exercise his or her rights under these statutes or complained that those rights were being infringed by the employer. For example, it would be against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for taking medical leave under the FMLA or requesting her maternity rights to express milk in a private room upon return to work from giving birth.
If you find yourself saying or searching any of the following terms, your best option is to call an experienced employment law lawyer, including those at The Spitz Law Firm:
- I was fired today after I reported my boss to HR for being racist.
- My supervisor put me on second shift after I complained that I was not being paid overtime.
- Can I sue my employer for retaliating against me for opposing race discrimination even though I’m White?
- My hours were cut after I asked for a room to express milk for my baby.
- I was fired when I refused to fire older workers and telling the owner that it was age discrimination.
- After I complained to HR about sexual harassment, my boss doubled my workload and told me that I should quit.
- My district manager gave me an unfair bad review because I reported gender discrimination on the company hotline.
- I was demoted after my wife complained about employment discrimination to the regional manager during her review.
- I refused to lie during an investigation into my boss’s religious discrimination and was fired three days later.
- After I complained about not being paid overtime, I wasn’t allowed to participate in training sessions that are needed to keep my job and for promotions.
- I want to sue my company for retaliating against me for reporting national origin discrimination to human resources.
- My boss fired my sister to punish me for complaining about minimum wage violations.
- My former employer is giving me bad references because I reported employment discrimination when I quit.
Employment laws can be very confusing especially when trying to figure them out right after being wrongfully fired. Again, the best thing for you to do is find the best employment lawyer that you can find and go over your particularly set of facts.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “my boss retaliated me because I complained to HR about …” race discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, age discrimination, religious discrimination or disability discrimination; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then you should call the right attorney and schedule a free and confidential consultation. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes. Call our Cincinnati attorneys at (513) 818-3688. Call our Cleveland attorneys at (216) 291-4744. Call our Columbus attorneys at (614) 335-4685. Call our Toledo attorneys at (419) 960-5926.
Because we know that many clients are not able to afford the costs of litigation up front, we take on more cases on a contingency fee basis than most firms. Contingency fee agreements mean that the client need not pay any fee for legal services unless and until our employment attorneys recover money and/or results on your gender discrimination claim.