Your Employer Should Not Punish You for Doing the Right Thing
The laws designed to protect the rights of American workers are only as effective as the ability of workers to exercise those rights. Unfortunately, too many employers threaten the livelihoods and reputations of employees who do what’s right, report conduct that is believed to be illegal, or simply ask for benefits to which they’re entitled. Often, those who have reported illegal conduct are referred to as whistleblowers.
Prohibited retaliation often provides a basis for claims in addition to those relating to the underlying misconduct an employee reports. For example:
- If an employee reports sexual harassment and then is demoted, the employee may have claims for both harassment and retaliation.
- If an employee asks for a disability or religious accommodation and their employer then puts them on a performance improvement plan, the employee may have claims for both failure to accommodate and retaliation.
- If an employee reports discriminatory conduct against the employee and then is shunned or excluded from critical meetings, the employee may have claims for both discrimination and retaliation.
- If an employee reports fraud against Medicaid or Medicare.
In some cases, an employee may have a hard-to-prove discrimination claim but a much easier-to-prove claim of retaliation.
Such retaliation against employees for reporting and complaining about misconduct or violations of their rights is prohibited by several federal and state laws. If you believe you are the victim of retaliation in the workplace, contact our whistleblower attorneys for a free consultation.
When You Stand Up for Yourself, Our Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyers Stand Up for You
Those who find themselves and their careers in the crosshairs of a vengeful employer for having the courage to speak out deserve better. They deserve to be vindicated. They deserve justice and accountability. And they deserve committed legal representation from expert whistleblower retaliation attorneys who will fight to make them whole, and compensate them for the financial, practical, and emotional effects of prohibited retaliation.
At Halunen Law, we fight for those who stood up for themselves, their colleagues, or the law. Our employment law attorneys have successfully represented thousands of victims of retaliation at companies large and small, in the public and private sectors, and in a broad spectrum of industries. Halunen Law has the experience and determination to protect the rights of wronged workers, no matter the pretext for an employer’s actions or the specific laws the employer violates.
What Is Retaliation?
Retaliation against an employee can involve much more than termination. It can often be more subtle and less abrupt than firing, but any “materially adverse action” taken against an employee for asserting their legally protected rights can constitute prohibited retaliation. These actions can include:
- Reduction in pay
- Reduction in benefits
- Transfer to a less-desirable location or space
- Change of shift or schedule
- Verbal or emotional abuse
- Placement on an unfair performance improvement plan
- Negative performance reviews
Most cases of prohibited retaliation involve an employee who reports wrongdoing or violations of the law by their employer or those who suffer because they exercised rights that the law provides to them. An employee doesn’t need to make a formal report or complaint to a regulator or government body to be a victim of retaliation. An employer can be held accountable for adverse employment actions taken in response to an employee:
- Communicating with a supervisor or manager about a problem or violation of the law, such as employment discrimination or harassment
- Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged misconduct
- Refusing to engage in illegal or wrongful activities
- Resisting acts of discrimination, harassment, or misconduct, or intervening to protect others
- Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
Types of Retaliation Claims
At Halunen Law, our whistleblower lawyers frequently represent clients in retaliation actions based on:
- Reporting or complaining about employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, marital status, religion, or any other reason prohibited by law
- Reporting sexual harassment or misconduct
- Reporting unsafe working conditions or violations of applicable federal or state safety and health laws, such as violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Failure to make reasonable accommodation or other violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Assertion of rights under wage and hour laws, including failure to pay minimum wage or overtime pay or misclassification as an independent contractor
- Workers’ compensation laws
- Employee rights to family or medical leave, including leave rights related to COVID-19
- Military service or deployment (USERRA claims) requirements
- Jury service requirements
- Reporting violations of state and federal laws and regulations
- Blowing the whistle on conduct that may violate:
Retaliation Remedies Available For Employees
An employee who successfully proves that their employer illegally retaliated against them can avail themselves of several remedies designed to compensate them for their ordeal and make them whole, including:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Damages for emotional distress
- Attorney’s fees and costs
- In some instances, punitive damages
When employees bring retaliation claims under the False Claims Act, they are entitled to two-times their back pay losses.