Social Accounts Sprite
The Buenker Law Firm

Understanding Workplace Retaliation

Every employee has the right to oppose their employer’s illegal practices. An employer that punishes or discourages the employee from opposing illegal practices may be liable for retaliation under the law. If you believe you are a victim of retaliation, contact The Buenker Law Firm in Houston, TX, to discuss your circumstances with a workplace retaliation lawyer

A female employee crying in response to workplace retaliation.
Workplace retaliation can include actions such as firing or demotion.

What May Be Considered Retaliation?

Retaliation is an action to punish an employee for engaging in a protected activity. Retaliation can include:

  • Demotion
  • Discipline 
  • Firing
  • Salary reduction 
  • Reassignment 
  • Verbal or physical abuse

There are also more subtle forms of retaliation such as exclusion from meetings, an unfair employee evaluation, or unwarranted negative references after the employee leaves. It is important to keep in mind that an action may only be considered retaliatory if it has a negative effect on your employment or is likely to deter a reasonable person from pursuing their rights. 

What Is a Protected Activity?

An employer is prohibited from taking retaliatory actions against employees for complaints made regarding the employee’s treatment by the employer:

  • Complaining about or filing a charge of sex discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge of race discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge of religious discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge of national origin discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge of disability discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge of age discrimination or harassment under State or Federal law;
  • Complaining about or filing a charge under the Family Medical Leave Act;
  • Filing a worker’s compensation claim;
  • Complaining about or filing a claim for minimum wage or overtime pay.

An employer that punishes or discourages the employee from opposing illegal practices may be liable for retaliation. 

An employer is also prohibited from taking retaliatory actions against employees for some actions taken during employment but not related to the treatment of the employee:

  • Complaining about or reporting the mistreatment of a resident of a nursing home;
  • Complaining about or reporting the mistreatment of a resident of an assisted living facility;
  • Complaining about or reporting the mistreatment of a resident of a daycare facility for mentally or developmentally challenged adults;
  • Complaining about or reporting violations of law at a hospital;
  • Refusing to commit an illegal act;
  • Reporting suspected child abuse;
  • Reporting suspected Medicare fraud.

A legally protected activity can be classified in two ways:

Opposition
This may include instances in which an employee has complained directly to the employer, reported illegal activity, threatened to file a complaint, or refused to comply with an illegal request.
Participation
Participation includes acting as a witness for an internal or external investigation about illegal activity, or assisting another employee in their efforts to assert their legal rights. This person has not complained about illegal activity with regard to themselves.

The protected activities described above are not an exhaustive list; there are others.

Even if the employee turns out to be wrong, the employee is protected from retaliation as long as he or she acts in good faith.

Learn More About Your Rights

If you believe that your employer may have retaliated against you for engaging in a protected activity, contact us online or call The Buenker Law Firm today at (713) 868-3388.

Get In Touch

Rate, Review & Explore

Houston Office

2060 North Loop W
Ste 215
Houston, TX 77018

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (713) 868-3388