4 Situations Where an Employer May Retaliate

posted by Daniel Stevens  |  Jan 1, 2019 5:49 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

4 Situations Where an Employer May Retaliate



Retaliation is a type of practice that is deemed unlawful under employment laws.  An employee may experience retaliation when he or she makes a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination, or some kind of illegal activity.  The way an employer may exercise retaliatory behavior is by punishing an employee for making the complaint.   Punishing an employee for making a complaint may be expressed through demotion, reduced pay, reduced work hours, removal from the work schedule, denial of employment benefits, reprimanding the employee for fictitious reasons, and termination.  Again, to retaliate against an employee after he or she makes a complaint, may result in legal proceedings being brought against the employer. If an employee does feel as though they have been retaliated against after making a complaint, he or she should contact an Employment Lawyer to discuss their potential claim against their employer. Below are a few situations where an employee may find themselves retaliated against.


  1. You make a complaint about sexual harassment.


sexual harassment lawyer


Although it is considered unlawful behavior, sexual harassment is the most common form of harassment in the workplace.  Sexual harassment can be exercised through comments, visuals, rumors, or physical contact.  According to the law, an employee has the right to report sexual harassment without any repercussions.  This means that an employee’s position at work is protected in the event that he or she makes a formal complaint regarding sexual harassment. For example, Nina worked for an advertising company.  Recently a new director was hired to oversee her department named Larry.  Soon after Larry was hired, he gave extra attention to Nina; attention that Nina did not welcome.  Often Larry would make comments about Nina’s breasts to other male employee’s, making jokes that Nina’s breasts were bigger than her brains.  Nina was afraid of Larry as he had cornered her in the copy room a few times and asked her if she would ever consider dating anyone in her department.  Most recently, Nina had asked if she could apply for a promotion and in reply, Larry asked “what do I get?” and winked.  Fed up and overwhelmed, Nina made a formal complaint to the head supervisor of the company.  A few days after Nina made the complaint, she was demoted and moved to a smaller office but still remained under the supervision of Larry and his tormenting.  Nina sent several emails to the head supervisor complaining of the continued harassment but each one went unanswered, Two weeks later Nina was let go from her job without reason.  Here, Nina may have been a victim of sexual harassment but was also then made a victim if retaliation after she spoke up.  The timeline follows that after Nina complained, she was demoted, placed in a smaller office and then let go.  These actions can all be construed as punishment for making the complaint about Larry sexually harassing her on multiple occasions. If Nina were to take her situation to an Employment Lawyer, she may have a claim against her former employer for sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination.


If an employee feels as though he or she is being sexually harassed he or she should make a formal complaint which entails details of who was the harasser, what occurred, when it took place, and list any witnesses.  It is required by law that employers have an anti-sexual harassment policy in place, so after an employee makes a complaint, there should be steps in place within the policy that should be followed.  An employee can make a complaint to a manager, supervisor, or Human Resources Department.  The complaint does not even need to be made to that particular employee’s direct supervisor or manager, it just needs to be made so that the next step in the policy can begin which is usually that all managers or supervisors are taking the formal complaint to their supervisor or directly to the Human Resources Department.


  1. You take or request a leave of absence


leave of absence lawyer


Employees have the right under certain employment laws to take a leave of absence for particular reasons.  Some of those reasons may include a medical leave, disability leave, or a leave to care for an ill family member or for incidences regarding pregnancy.  If an employee requests to take an approved leave or actually takes an approved leave, an employer does not legally have the right to punish that employee for taking the leave.  For example, in some circumstances, an employer must reinstate an employee their job upon their return from their leave.  An employer who fires an employee or lets an employee go after he or she takes a leave or requests for a leave may be found liable for retaliation. An employee who takes a leave or requests a leave of absence and feels that they have been retaliated against for that very reason should call an Employment Lawyer.


  1. You make a complaint about discrimination


discrimination lawyer


There are employment laws which prohibit discrimination. Discrimination against an employee based on their age, race, religion, sexual orientation, creed, gender, sex, marital status, military status, veteran status, disability, medical condition, or pregnancy is prohibited by law.  Depending on the specific circumstances, if an employee were to complain about being discriminated against and they were treated adversely thereafter, he or she may have a claim in retaliation. An employee who was discriminated against and terminated for complaining about being discriminated against should call an Employment Lawyer.


  1. You report something illegal


Employment Lawyer


There are laws in place that protect certain employees who report illegal activity in the workplace. These types of employees who report such things as unsafe work conditions are called whistleblowers.  If a whistleblower reports illegal activity such as poor work conditions and is then fired, he or she may have a retaliation claim against their former employer.  A whistleblower who was terminated should call an Employment Lawyer to discuss their potential retaliation claim as well as wrongful termination.


Employees should not tolerate any kind of retaliation and should contact a wrongful termination attorney who offers free consultations.



Source:  4 Situations Where an Employer May Retaliate

Comments (0)

No comments were found for this article.

Have an Employment Law question?

Virginia Employment Lawyers

Matthew Sutter Matthew Sutter
Sutter & Terpak, PLLC
Annandale, VA
Gerald Lutkenhaus Gerald Lutkenhaus
Virginia Workers Compensation & Disability Lawyer
Richmond, VA
Sheri Abrams Sheri Abrams
Sheri R. Abrams PLLC
Oakton, VA
Matthew Kaplan Matthew Kaplan
The Kaplan Law Firm
Edward Lowry Edward Lowry
Charlottesville, VA

more Virginia Employment Lawyers