Federal and state laws make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint or even raising the issue of employment discrimination. If an employer retaliates over a complaint, they can be liable in a lawsuit, even if they did not actually discriminate in the first place.
Even when employment is at will, firing an employee after they have complained about discrimination may be illegal if it was in retaliation. While retaliation obviously includes termination, there are many more acts that could be considered retribution for a complaint. These acts include:
- Downgrading an employee on their performance evaluation
- Changing the employee’s working conditions
- Denying the employee a promotion or a raise
- Demoting the employee
When an employee participates in the complaint process, they are protected in all circumstances. They do not even need to use the word “discrimination.” So long as they are describing conduct that sounds like discrimination, they cannot be retaliated against. The same protections apply to people who may be a witness in a discrimination case.
There is a fine line between illegal conduct and poor behavior. The employer will certainly never admit that an action was discriminatory. The employee would need to prove that the action was in retaliation against them for complaining.
From the employer’s standpoint, they need to be very careful about any personnel action that involves an employee who has filed a complaint. For example, if the employee has always received strong performance evaluations, a bad review after a complaint was filed would be very suspicious and possible evidence of retaliation.
Contact an Atlanta Employment Litigation Attorney Today
Battleson Law LLC can help if you have been the victim of illegal conduct in the workplace. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us today at 470.766.0811 or send us a message online.