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Who is Protected from Workplace Retaliation?

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Dec 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Illegal workplace retaliation is a situation in which an employer takes “adverse action” against an employee because the employee exercised a protected legal right. There are a number of federal and state laws that protect employees from employer retaliation.

Some examples of protected rights are: seeking advice about your legal rights as an employee, notifying someone of certain employment law violations in the workplace, filing certain wage violation complaints, complaining about illegal harassment or discrimination, reporting certain unsafe work conditions, discussing the workplace or wages with co-workers, filing a complaint with certain regulatory agencies, filing certain kinds of lawsuits or supporting a co-worker who filed such a lawsuit, and certain instances of whistleblowing.

If your employer is aware that you have engaged in a protected activity like those listed above, and takes adverse action against you, they may have retaliated illegally. Adverse action is any act by an employer that will have a significant negative affect on the terms and conditions of your employment.

Adverse action can take many forms. Some examples of adverse actions include: termination, demotion, suspension, harassment/threats, unequal or unfair discipline, pay reduction, hour reduction, refusal to hire, failure to promote worthy candidates, treating certain employees worse than others (particularly in regard to benefit, shifts assigned, time off, etc.), re-verifying employment authorization in an illegal manner (i.e. using E-Verify system illegally), threatening to report or actually reporting a worker's lack of immigration status, or filing fabricated civil or criminal charges, etc.

Illegal retaliation can occur at any point after an employee exercises a protected right. It doesn't always occur immediately after the initial action. Sometimes the retaliation can occur a week, months or even years after the fact. As long as it's clear that the employer's negative action took place as a result of the employee's exercised legal action, it is likely illegal retaliation.

If you are experiencing retaliation or if you need to ask questions of an Atlanta employment law attorney dedicated to fighting for justice at work, get in touch with Barrett & Farahany.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.


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When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.