Employees can technically lose their jobs for all kinds of reasons, but employers are prohibited from terminating their workers due to a few specific motivations. For example, it is illegal for companies to intentionally retaliate against a worker for making use of their legal rights.
Companies should not punish workers by terminating them, demoting them or otherwise imposing workplace penalties for protected activities. Workers facing retaliation often feel blindsided when they lose their jobs or learn about other workplace consequences. The timing of certain employment decisions can often strongly influence whether the situation seems to involve retaliation or not.
Employers can’t punish workers for using their rights
Federal and state employee protections not only create rules against harassment and discrimination but also hold employers accountable to some degree. The rules against retaliation make it possible for workers to recoup lost wages and opportunities that they would have enjoyed if they hadn’t faced mistreatment by their employer.
No one should have to choose between unionizing with their co-workers, pursuing workers’ compensation or taking a legally-protected leave of absence and losing their jobs. Employees should not have to accept wage law violations or workplace harassment just to keep their jobs or secure a promotion.
When a company takes punitive actions against a worker shortly after they speak up about a matter or in the months after they assert their rights, the timing of those actions could help someone convince the courts that the company violated their rights by retaliating against them. The more personal records someone keeps about their protected activities, the easier it may be to prove the connection between their choices and the company’s actions. Proving that punitive actions followed someone’s protected workplace activity can be a good starting point for those hoping to fight back against retaliation from an employer.