Retaliation in the Workplace


Employee’s can experience backlash from their employers if they make complaints about discrimination, harassment, or a violation of personal rights at work. Fortunately the law protects all employees from retaliation in the workplace.

Unlawful actions made by your employer as retaliation include: discipline, salary reduction, negative evaluations, change in job description, firing, demotion, or change in shift assignment.

If you’ve lost your job, a certain position, or a considerable amount of wages after engaging in legally protected activities at work then JacksonWhite can help.

Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace:

  1. You feel that your supervisor has sexually harassed you, and after speaking with some co-workers you discover that they have also felt harassed. You decide to participate in a sexual harassment investigation against your supervisor; your supervisor finds out and gives you a negative evaluation despite the fact that your work performance has remained unchanged.
  2. You are fired for “performance issues” after you file a discrimination complaint against your employer, even though you were never asked to improve your performance before you filed the complaint.

Proving Your Case

In order to have a successful retaliation case you’ll need excellent proof of a connection between your firing, or other negative action made towards you, and the complaint you made against your employer.

Typically employees are fired because they file a complaint with the EEOC and an investigation is launched against the company. Proof that the termination is in fact retaliation comes from examining the window of time between the two events. If an employee complains, and is fired a week or even a month later, they may have a good case for retaliation.

The best evidence would be if your employer actually said, during the termination, “You’re being fired because you complained about” Or if you threaten to complain, and you’re told something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t advise you to do that.”

Employees often have inside information on the processes and procedures that go on in companies and agencies. When employees notice wrongdoing and report it to authorities, they can leave themselves open to punishment for revealing this information. Many states have instituted laws to protect those who report problems that affect the public health or the public trust. If you are involved in a case of whistle blowing, any punitive actions against you by your employer are against the law. Retaliation and whistle blowing lawyers in Mesa, Arizona can provide information on the protections the law provides for those who give information regarding illicit or unsafe actions.

What about Whistle Blowing?

Whistleblowing is a term used to denote reporting of wrongdoing about illegal or unsafe actions that have consequences against public health or are in violation of the public trust. Whistleblowing can be used in regard to a variety of industries and circumstances. For example, if a manufacturing company routinely dumps its waste illegally, it could leak into water sources and cause a public health problem. Whistleblowing could also cover activities of a financial institution that violates the public interest of fairness or honesty. Whistleblowing in the public sector could involve favoritism regarding contracts, illegal billing of services not performed or other actions. Whistleblowing serves the legitimate purpose of keeping companies and agencies honest and discouraging using their power and access to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

Employers Who Retaliate Against Whistle Blowers

Employers are in a position of power over their employees and may use that power to retaliate against those who report illegal or unsafe activities to authorities. These retaliatory actions may take the form of harassment, isolation, denying overtime opportunities, passing over individuals for promotion or denying work opportunities or training they would normally receive. If evidence of retaliation is presented, the employer may be subject to fines and sometimes, even jail time. Employers that have been named in a complaint that is covered by whistleblower protections must conduct themselves in a very discreet manner to avoid any appearance of retaliation.

Laws Regarding Retaliation

A number of federal and state laws apply to protect individuals who come forward to reveal illegal or unsafe actions done by companies and agencies. The Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 covers cases of shareholder fraud and other financial wrongdoings by publicly traded companies. Protections for whistleblowers under this legislation protect them whether or not wrongdoing is actually found, as long as the reporting was done in good faith. Other federal laws may be in effect, for example regarding workplace safety issues and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In addition, federal laws protect those who file a complaint for discrimination by the employers. State laws may also apply in these cases. Statutes regarding retaliation against employees vary from state to state.

Arizona Laws Regarding Retaliation

In the state of Arizona, laws covering employer retaliation cover a variety of different circumstances. Complaints must be filed with the Arizona Civil Rights Division. The retaliation must be reported within 180 days of the incident. Cases regarding health and safety can be filed with the Industrial Commission of Arizona within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

  • Employers must avoid retaliation or the appearance of retaliation against employees who have engaged in a whistleblowing incident, as well as those who have filed a complaint for discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national origin or age.
  • An employer cannot retaliate against anyone who is assisting a discrimination case, testifying for a case or participating in an investigation or hearing.
  • The protections against retaliatory actions by employers extend to those who are seeking their workers compensation rights, those using their voting rights or those performing public service, such as jury duty.
  • The law also protects those who are refusing to do something illegal as part of their employment against retaliatory actions.
  • Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who reports a worker safety violation covered under Arizona statute.
  • Employees who report violations of pesticide use are also protected from retaliation under Arizona law.

Employers Can Protect Themselves Against Retaliation Claims

Arizona has “at will” employment law, which allows employers to fire employees whenever they want, for whatever we reason they want. However, this concept does not apply in claims of retaliation against employees who engage in whistleblowing to reveal wrongdoing, nor for those who file a claim of discrimination. Companies and agencies can protect themselves against employee claims of retaliation for whistleblowing by having a specific policy in their employee manual for these cases. They should also have a policy in place for investigating claims of wrongdoing, so that problems can be remedied before being reported to governing agencies. The policies should be clearly explained in employee manuals, and workers should be encouraged to read the manuals and understand the company policies. Employers must also be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for unrelated actions, keeping clear records on the wrongdoing and corrective actions that are taken. These records can be an important tool in justifying actions if the employee claims the disciplinary actions war retaliation for whistleblowing, which is protected by law.

Getting Legal Help To Protect Your Rights in Arizona

If you have made the decision to report wrongdoing by your employer, you should be ready to protect your rights against retaliation. Consulting with retaliation and whistle blowing attorneys in Mesa, Arizona will ensure that your rights under the law are protected. Your attorneys can monitor your employer’s actions to make sure that you are not being punished for your actions in defense of the public good. Employers who are the subjects of a whistleblowing action may require advice to explain the requirements of the law protecting whistleblowers or may require legal counsel if they are accused of retaliating against an employee.

Law regarding employment matters can be complex and confusing. If you are involved in a whistle blower case that puts you at risk for retaliation by your employer, contact retaliation and whistle blowing attorneys in Mesa, Arizona to learn about your protections under the law.

Do You Have Doubts?

If it seems like a recent negative interaction with your employer was the result of retaliation, and they’re unwilling to negotiate a solution with you despite your claims, then you’ll need to consider what evidence you have and hire a dedicated lawyer to fight on your behalf.

The labor and employment law team at JacksonWhite encourages employees to affirm their employment rights. If you believe your rights have been violated, or if you think that your employer is retaliating against you because of your workplace complaints, speak with an attorney to get qualified legal assistance.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

Contact Our Employment Law Team

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