An employer may not retaliate against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. Employer retaliation can include any job action considered "negative", including:
The same law that prohibits discrimination based on color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.
In addition to the protections against retaliation that are included in all of the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else's exercise if rights granted by the ADA.
There are three main terms that are used to describe retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer, employment agency, or labor organization takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity. These three terms are described below.
An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include:
Adverse actions do not include petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.
Even if the prior protected activity alleged wrongdoing by a different employer, retaliatory adverse actions are unlawful. For example, it is unlawful for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him for pursuing an EEO charge against a former employer.
Of course, employees are not excused from continuing to perform their jobs or follow their company's legitimate workplace rules just because they have failed a complaint with the EEOC or opposed discrimination.
Covered individuals are people who have opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accommodations related to employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in such protected activity also are covered individuals. For example, it is illegal to terminate an employee because his spouse participated in employment discrimination litigation.
Individuals who have brought attention to violations of law other than employment discrimination are NOT covered individuals for purposes of anti-discrimination retaliation laws. For example, "whistleblowers" who raise ethical, financial, or other concerns unrelated to employment discrimination are not protected by the EEOC enforced laws.
Protected activity includes:
"Opposition" is informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination. Opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law; and the manner of the opposition is reasonable.
Examples of protected opposition include:
Examples of activities that are NOT protected opposition include:
"Participation" means taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding. Participating is protected activity even if the proceeding involved claims that ultimately were found to be invalid. Examples of participation include:
A protected activity can also include requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.
If you believe that you or someone you care about has been, or may be, subject to retaliation in Orlando, Tampa or anywhere within the Central Florida area, give us a call immediately. Our Orlando Retaliation Attorney has helped many employees in the past and would be honored to help you too. We are available at (407) 205-2330 for a free consultation. You may also fill out the online form provided on this page and our employment litigation attorney will contact you back shortly.
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