How Does an Employment Lawyer Evaluate a Retaliation Case?

If you suspect you are a victim of retaliation in the workplace, you may be wondering what it takes to file a legal claim against your employer. Employment law can be complex and confusing for many workers, so having a professional advocate on your side can be invaluable.

There are several laws that protect workers from employer retaliation. Employment lawyers are dedicated to protecting workers’ rights under these laws, and can help you receive the compensation you deserve. But you may be wondering what constitutes retaliation or what an employment lawyer evaluates with a retaliation case. In this blog, we will answer these questions and more. Read on to learn how you can get compensation for workplace retaliation.  

Overview of Retaliation Law

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for engaging in any activity that is protected under the law. Some of these protected activities include filing an internal complaint, requesting an accommodation for a disability, filing a discrimination claim with a governmental agency, participating in a discrimination investigation, or opposing any form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, among may others. 

Another important law that protects employees from retaliation is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this federal law, employers cannot retaliate against employees for engaging in any activity protected by the law. This includes filing a discrimination complaint, participating in an investigation, or opposing any form of discrimination.

These are just two of the many laws in place that protect an employee’s rights. If you have questions about whether your rights were violated, it can be very helpful to consult an employment attorney. 

Example of a Retaliation Case

employee complaint form

There are many different ways a retaliation case can occur. One example is if an employee notices safety hazards and possible safety violations in the workplace. The employee may file a complaint and ask to make their workplace safer.

If the employer demotes the employee or gives them fewer hours instead of acting on this complaint, this may be considered a retaliation case.  

Another example of retaliation may be an employee filing a sexual harassment claim and the employer withholding wages or assigning fewer hours. An employee may also take issue with an employer’s low wages, but their employer fires them rather than addressing the issue. When an employer retaliates, it discourages employees from complaining and speaking up about their working conditions and can prolong unsafe or hostile work environments.  

These are just a few examples of retaliatory behavior, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see what happened to you listed here. Retaliation is a very complicated area of law because the specific facts of your situation will determine if you can successfully bring a case for retaliation. There are many different situations that can prompt a retaliation suit so it’s important to consult an expert to make sure your rights are protected. 

Benefits of Consulting an Employment Lawyer

If you are looking for compensation for workplace retaliation, you may be wondering if you need an employment lawyer. There are a few benefits to having an employment lawyer.

Every state has its own employment laws, and it can be difficult to know what rights you have as an employed worker. An employment lawyer or a retaliation lawyer will be able to explain the applicable laws to you and help you understand your rights. This can help ensure that you are not taken advantage of by your employer and that you are treated fairly.

If you suspect you are the victim of retaliation, a retaliation attorney can advise you on how to document any incidents of retaliation. They can also help you file a complaint with the appropriate government agency. Your lawyer can also represent you in any legal proceedings that may arise from the retaliation.

In addition to providing legal advice, an employment lawyer can also help you negotiate a settlement with your employer. This can include compensation for lost wages and other damages. Your lawyer can help you understand the options available to you if you decide to pursue a lawsuit against your employer for retaliation.

Having an experienced employment lawyer in your corner is essential when facing a retaliation case. They can provide you with the legal counsel and advice you need to ensure your rights are protected and treated fairly.

What an Employment Lawyer Evaluates in a Retaliation Case

Once you are working with an employment lawyer, there are a few things the employment lawyer will look at. First, the lawyer will evaluate whether the retaliatory action was taken in response to a “protected activity” on your part. A lot of different actions can constitute a protected activity, but some examples include filing a discrimination or harassment complaint, participating in an investigation, or refusing to participate in illegal activities. 

Next, the employment lawyer will look at the facts to see if your employer took a “retaliatory action” against you.  Retaliatory actions can include:

  • Demoting you
  • Transferring you
  • Threatening you, or treating you in a hostile manner
  • Firing you, or wrongfully terminating your job
  • Denying you a promotion or other opportunity to progress your career
  • Reducing your pay or hours.
  • Denying you benefits

Next, the lawyer will evaluate whether the retaliatory action was reasonably related to the protected activity or complaint. In other words, the lawyer will determine whether there is a logical connection between the activity and the retaliatory action–does it seem that the employer took the retaliatory action in an effort to punish the employee?

The lawyer may look at how long the employee has worked at the business and their job history and performance evaluations. If the employee has a good track record and was only fired or demoted after taking part in a protected activity, there is a stronger case for retaliation.  However, if the employee has had past performance issues or the demotion occurs long after filing a complaint, there is less substantial evidence for retaliation. Again, every retaliation case is unique, so if the employee can explain why the action was retaliatory, there may be a case for retaliation even if the employee has a poor performance history. 

Fourth, the lawyer will evaluate the context in which the retaliatory action occurred. This includes evaluating any communications, documents, or other evidence that may demonstrate a retaliatory motive. While the employee might claim retaliation, the employer could say the lack of pay or termination was unrelated to the complaint and more related to the employee’s performance or the status of the employer.

Fifth, the lawyer will evaluate the losses to the employee. Depending on whether the employee suffered any financial losses due to the adverse action, such as lost wages or benefits, the lawyer may advise engaging in civil litigation to recover damages. They will also look at any psychological or emotional harm the employee may have suffered due to the retaliation.

Generally, lawyers will encourage you to engage in litigation when more serious actions — such as termination, demotion, or suspension — occurred, rather than less serious actions, such as a warning or reprimand.

What Evidence Do You Need For a Retaliation Case?

For the employment lawyer to properly and efficiently evaluate your case, you will need to gather proof of the following items:

1. You were engaged in a protected activity.

The first step in proving a retaliation claim is demonstrating that you were engaged in a protected activity. This can include various activities, like filing a complaint, testifying at a hearing, or participating in an investigation related to workplace discrimination.

2. You suffered an adverse action

The next step is to show that you suffered an adverse action due to your protected activity.  If you can show that you were demoted, lost hours, pay, benefits, or were fired, you can show evidence of an adverse action taken against you. 

3. There is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.

To prove a retaliation claim, you must demonstrate that the protected activity and the adverse action were related. This means that you must show that the protected activity at least partially motivated the employer’s decision to take the adverse action.

4. The employer’s explanation for the adverse action is untrue

Finally, you must show that the employer’s explanation for the adverse action is untrue. This can be done by demonstrating that the employer’s explanation is not supported by other evidence or that it is inconsistent with the employer’s past practices.

Consequences of Retaliation

If an employee is successful in their retaliation case, the employer may be required to pay monetary damages, reinstate the employee, and take other corrective action. The amount of compensation an employee may receive will depend on the severity of the retaliation, the impact the retaliation had on the employee’s life, and any other damages suffered.

Compensatory Damages

When an employer retaliates against an employee for exercising their rights, it can have far-reaching consequences, including compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are financial compensation awarded to an employee who has suffered harm due to an employer’s retaliatory action that are meant to compensate for the losses the employee has suffered and may include lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, or other forms of compensation.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded. These are damages meant to punish the employer for their retaliatory action and may be awarded in addition to the other damages. Punitive damages are meant to send a strong message and discourage the employer from acting similarly in the future, or other employers from taking similar actions.

Other Remedies

In addition to damages and punitive damages, other remedies are available to workers who have been retaliated against. These may include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, attorney’s fees, and other forms of compensation.

Wrapping Up

It is important to understand the complexities of a retaliation case and the role of an employment lawyer in evaluating it. An employment lawyer will ensure that all relevant facts are considered when determining whether a case of retaliation has merit. They will also investigate any potential legal remedies to ensure a successful outcome. With the right legal representation, you can be sure that your rights will be protected and you will receive fair and just legal recourse.

The attorneys at Lázaro Law Group have years of experience representing clients in employer retaliation cases and are dedicated to helping you receive the best possible compensation. To learn more about employer retaliation and to see how we can help you with your retaliation case, visit us online and contact us today!

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Lázaro Law Group
321 S. Plymouth Ct Suite 1250,
Chicago, IL 60604

Rafael E. Lazaro
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