Retaliation

Federal and Ohio Retaliation Attorneys

Retaliation can occur against employees in a variety of situations and in all aspects of employment.  Importantly, any employee, regardless of his or her status, has a private cause of action if he or she experiences retaliation.  Many employment laws, whether they are under federal or Ohio law, have provisions which prohibit retaliation against their employees.  With the guidance of an Ohio retaliation attorney located in Toledo, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio at Bryant Legal, LLC, we can readily make sure your rights are protected and, when appropriate, asserted appropriately.  Many of these statutes include, but are not limited to the following:

Retaliation occurs when:

  • (1) an employee is involved in “protected activity” in one of two ways:
    • (a) Opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination (based on reasonable and good faith belief),
      • Complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others;
      • Threatening to file a charge of discrimination;
      • Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or
      • Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.
    • (b) Participation in an employment discrimination proceeding (even if claims ultimately determined to be invalid)
      • filing a charge of discrimination, testifying, assisting (including opposing the unlawful conduct), or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the applicable statute.
  • (2) the employee suffers an “adverse employment action,” and
    • note: the adverse action must effect a significant change in employment status
    • Examples include
      • demotion, firing, failing to promote, suspension, termination, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits (e.g. reduction of hours, among others).
  • (3) there is a causal connection, based on the totality of the circumstances, between the protected activity and the adverse action

Below, are a few examples that could present a colorable claim for retaliation:

In the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a qualified individual requests a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability.  At this point, he or she is protected against retaliation for making the request because this constitutes a “protected activity.”  In response, he or she is transferred to a different job, hours are reduced, or he or she receives an increased workload.

In the context of Title VII, retaliation can occur when an employee files a complaint with her employer’s human resources department alleging that she was sexually harassed by a company manager while on a company trip.  In response, other company managers reassign her to less favorable projects, stop including her in meetings, and tell co-workers not to speak with her.

In the context of wages, the FLSA prohibits retaliation against an employee by the employer.  Section 15(a)(3) of the FLSA states that it is a violation for any person to “discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding, or has served or is about to serve on an industry committee.” 

Importantly, employees are protected regardless of whether the complaint is made orally or in writing. Complaints made to the Wage and Hour Division are protected, and most courts have ruled that internal complaints to an employer are also protected.

Thus, any employee who is “discharged or in any other manner discriminated against” because, for instance, he or she has filed a complaint or cooperated in an investigation, may file a retaliation complaint with the Wage and Hour Division or may file a private cause of action seeking appropriate remedies including, but not limited to, employment, reinstatement, lost wages and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages

Under Ohio law, a common scenario of retaliation occurs when an employee suffers a workplace injury.  Ohio law requires employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for all employees.  Anyone who suffers a work-related injury deserves to be treated fairly, including the prompt receipt of benefits to which he or she is entitled with a goal of returning to work and qualify of life.  However, the reality is that employees are not treated fairly after suffering a workplace injury.  Often times employers lash out against injured employees because they are tired of complying with the the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or they are not empathetic to injured workers.

Ohio’s workers’ compensation statute prohibits retaliation against an injured employee in any aspect of employment.  Specifically, no employer shall discharge, demote, reassign, or take any punitive action against any employee because the employee filed a claim or instituted, pursued or testified in any proceedings under the workers’ compensation act for an injury or occupational disease which occurred in the course of and arising out of his or her employment with that employer.

If you believe you have been retaliated against in any of the above-referenced statutes or for more information about your issue, the Ohio retaliation attorneys at Bryant Legal, LLC can help.  Contact a Columbus or Toledo retaliation attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC.

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