If you complain about discrimination, or about some other unlawful activity, and you suffer some consequence on your job as a result, then you may have a claim of workplace retaliation. To prove retaliation, you do not have to prove that you were correct in your original allegation of discrimination or an unlawful activity – you just have to show that your belief, when you complained, was a reasonable one.
Next, you have to show that you complained – usually to a manager other than the one about whom you are complaining. Then, you must show that an action was taken against you – maybe you were fired, or demoted, or your performance evaluation was reduced, or the employer launched an investigation against you, to intimidate you.
Unless someone admits they took an action against you because you complained, you will most often prove that the adverse action was retaliation by showing that it occurred within a short period of time after you complained – a few days, weeks, or months, usually. To show that the employer was motivated by a desire to retaliate, you will have to show that the person who took the action against you knew that you complained at the time he or she retaliated. Alternatively, you could show that the person who took the action was merely rubber stamping a retaliatory action suggested by someone who knew of your complaint.
Please contact Bryan Schwartz if you believe you were subjected to any of these types of job discrimination and you need a lawyer's advice.
Be mindful of your deadline to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or, if your situation arose in California, with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. If you were retaliated against for blowing the whistle on unlawful activity other than discrimination, then read the Whistleblower section.