What to Do If Your Employer Retaliates Against You for Reporting Illegal Behavior or Enforcing Your Rights
Federal law protects employees from retaliation by their employers when they take appropriate action to combat discrimination and other illegal workplace behavior, or when they seek to exercise their workplace rights.
North Carolina’s anti-discrimination law, the North Carolina Retaliation in Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) also prohibits certain kinds of workplace retaliation, including discrimination against employees who have filed work safety or wage and hour complaints with the North Carolina Department of Labor, or who have been injured at work and filed workers’ compensation claims.
What Is Workplace Retaliation?
Some examples of employer retaliation include unlawful discharge (firing), demotion, being denied a promotion, or having one’s job responsibilities or job duties substantially reduced.
Who Can Bring a Retaliation Lawsuit?
- Employees who file grievances with their companies or complaints with the EEOC because they have been the victims of unlawful discrimination or harassment for any reason
- Employees who cooperate with a workplace colleague who files an EEOC charge; for example, a coworker who submits a written statement to the EEOC or gives testimony at a trial corroborating a sexual harassment claim by a fellow employee
- Family members of an employee who has made a discrimination claim against his employer or sought rightful benefits
- A manager or employee who refuses to participate in a discriminatory job action
Unfortunately, there are loopholes. If you were retaliated against for filing a complaint, the words you used in your complaint are important, as are its timing and proof that the person who retaliated against you knew about the complaint. The severity of the misconduct is also important.
Copeley Johnson Groninger PLLC Can Help You
If you are considering filing a complaint, it can be helpful to talk with an employment attorney FIRST. There are measures our lawyers can put in place to put you in the best position to prevail in a later retaliation lawsuit if retaliation does occur.
To schedule a confidential consultation, contact our Charlotte, North Carolina law office online or call us toll-free at 1-800-458-2541.
The North Carolina Retaliation in Employment Discrimination Act (REDA)
REDA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees who have complained about violations of their rights under the Wage and Hour Act, OSHA, or the Mine Safety and Health Act. It also bars discrimination against people who have used or who might need to use the state’s workers’ compensation program.
REDA also protects National Guard members and reservists, Juvenile Justice Act program participants, sickle cell disease carriers, and victims of domestic violence. REDA states that employers may not discipline employees for absenteeism due to domestic violence.
In order to claim protection under REDA, an employee must file a complaint with the North Carolina Dept of Labor’s Employment Discrimination Bureau (EDB) within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. The EDB will investigate the complaint and, if it decides there is reason to believe the allegations are true, it will issue a “right-to-sue” letter. The employee must then file suit within 90 days of receipt of that letter.
If a jury decides an employer willfully violated the law, it can award the plaintiff three times the actual damages experienced.
Take Action to Stop Retaliation in the Workplace
You should not have to endure illegal retaliation because you sought to exercise your rights. If you are ready to take serious action, call us toll-free at 1-800-458-2541 or contact us online to schedule a confidential appointment.