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Published By | Jun 8, 2022 | Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Race Discrimination, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination |

Who is protected from retaliation under employment laws?

Best Employment Lawyer Answer: Everyone and anyone that opposes, reports or participates into an investigation regarding unlawful discrimination, harassment, or wage violations. You don’t have to be a particular race/color, religion, gender/sex (including LGBTQ+ status), or national origin to be protected under the antiretaliation provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You don’t have to have a disability or over 40 years old to be protected under the antiretaliation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) respectively. If you report an overtime or minimum wage violation against only a coworker, you are protected. (Best Law Read: Why Retaliation Is The Easiest Employment Claim)

Let’s look at an example of how these antiretaliation laws protect employees who are not the subjection of the discriminatory or otherwise unlaw conduct. According to the recent lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for Middle District of North Carolina, the Duke University Health System engaged in unlawful retaliation to cover up its horrific race discrimination in its Environmental Services Department (“ESD”). Pursuant to the Complaint, shortly after Duke hired Matthew Freetage, who is white, as an Operations Manager in the ESD, one of the first things his new supervisor asked was “whether he had a problem supervising ‘blacks’” and was told to “start writing up ‘those people’ in order to keep them in line.” Later, management allegedly talked about “cleaning house” of all the “lazy,” Black workers.

Freetage opposed this conduct according to his lawsuit by pointing to the Duke’s diversity training program, and was immediately told, “Yeah that’s all bull shit. We don’t actually do that around here. It’s all for show.”

So, Freetage reported the race discrimination to the Human Resources Department (“HR”), who promised to investigate by allegedly tool no actions.

Then, Freetage opposed the wrongful firing of a Black employee by submitting a letter that pointed to “the severe mistreatment, discrimination and harassment from the management staff” of Black employees; and further reported that he was instructed to falsely write-up “colored” employees.

First off, people like Freetage are my favorite kind of people. See something wrong and make a stand. Do what’s right. It is a pretty simple concept. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” so said Edmund Burke. Freetage is a good man who did more than something.

Shortly after making this report, the Duke University Health System fired Freetage. Want to take a guess on who pulled the trigger on the firing? The very same manager that Freetage reported for race discrimination.

Based on our collective experience at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, the Duke University Health System has a major problem. An employer should never let the subject of a recent, much less still being investigated, complaint make employment decisions on the employee who made the complaint. Once there is evidence that Freetage opposed and/or reported the race discrimination and that an adverse employment action was taken against him (termination of employment), the jury will get to decide whether the Duke University Health System’s stated reason for termination, whatever that may be, is more believable than a racist manager retaliating for being reported. (Best Law Read: What Is An Adverse Employment Action?; Employment Discrimination Question: What Is Pretext? ).

Do you think that Duke University Health System is going to want to spend $175,000 to $250,000 paying its own lawyers just to see if they can convince the jury that this white guy, who voluntarily put himself at risk, was lying about the race discrimination and was just coincidently fired shortly after making the report by the same guy that was just reported? Yeah, me neither. (Best Law Read: What Is The Cost To Defend An Employment Lawsuit?). Now, if they lose, Duke’s not only going to have to pay Freetage his damages, but also pay his lawyers.

We will be keeping an eye on this one.

How do I sue my employer for retaliatory discharge?

Best Employment Lawyer Answer: If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated after reporting race discrimination” or  opposing national origin, gender, age, religion or disability, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?) Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Toledo and Cincinnati to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.


This employment law website is an advertisement. The materials available at the top of this page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I sue for wrongful termination”, “What should I do HR won’t listen to my gender discrimination complaints,” “I reported my manager for using the N-word, but HR did nothing,”; or “I was fired for today for no reason”, it would be best for to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.


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