How To Prove Your Firing Was Based On Retaliation

Harassment and discrimination are still two of the biggest problems in American workplaces. Despite the progress that has been made in recent decades, there are still many instances of employees being subjected to either or both.

Nowadays, many employees will report instances of harassment or discrimination at work, but this has also resulted in many employers taking some form of retaliatory action. This kind of action is illegal, and if you can prove it, you will have a case against your employer. If, for example, you're fired, how can you prove that it was due to retaliation?

Get Evidence that You Engaged in a Protected Activity

Under the federal laws that prohibit discrimination, there are certain activities that are considered protected. These are broadly placed into two groups:

  1. Opposition: This means that you engaged in an act of opposition against discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. All three of these activities are illegal under the law, and you should be protected if you opposed them.

  2. Participation: If you're an employee who is assisting with investigations into a harassment claim, e.g. as a witness, you're also to be protected from retaliatory actions.

Demonstrate that a Negative Action was Taken Against You

If your employer takes an action that might prevent you from complaining or engaging in a protected activity in the future, that may be considered retaliation. This is because, according to the law, you shouldn't be subjected to discrimination because you came forward with a complaint.

The interpretations of the associated statutes can be broad. The action is simply required to be 'materially adverse' to fit the case. Since there are many kinds of actions that employers can take that can have an adverse reaction on the employee, a broad interpretation is necessary to cover the different kinds of action that can be taken.

Show Causation

It's not enough to show that you engaged in a protected activity and got fired. You'll need to show that your firing was a result of engaging in a protected activity. When there is no direct evidence to link the two, you can present indirect evidence such as:

  1. Timing: Your firing came immediately after the complaint

  2. Knowledge: The person who fired you knew about the complaint

  3. There is no other reasonable explanation for your firing

Hiring a wrongful termination attorney is vital for you to prove your case, especially when you only have indirect evidence that your firing was retaliatory. You will need to show the most conclusive evidence in case you need to get involved in business litigation.

For more information, contact an office like Richard L Wise, Counselor at Law.