Kansas City Workplace Retaliation Lawyer
Missouri Workplace Retaliation Laws
Many employment laws that give workers certain rights and protections also include provisions protecting workers from retaliation for exercising their workplace rights. These anti-retaliation provisions are necessary to ensure the purposes of the laws are accomplished. If employers were allowed to freely punish their employees for reporting wrongful employment practices or otherwise invoking their workplace rights, employees would remain silent and employers could continue violating the law with impunity. Workplace laws cannot be enforced without people who are willing to stand up for what is right, and the law wants those people to feel safe and protected when they do the right thing.
Workplace retaliation cases require careful examination and analysis of the facts and law surrounding your situation. If you feel that you have been retaliated against by your employer, you are encouraged to speak with a Kansas City retaliation lawyer about your case. Contact the Law Office of Kevin A. Jones today for a free and confidential consultation.
What Is Retaliation In The Workplace?
To determine if you have been a victim of retaliation, it is important to know what qualifies as retaliation in the workplace. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes “adverse action” against an employee who engages in “protected activity.”
What Is Protected Activity?
Employers may not punish employees for engaging in behavior that is protected under the law. Typical protected activities involve opposing discriminatory employment practices, filing safety complaints, disclosing illegal activities, reporting on-the-job injuries, or pursuing any of your employment-related rights.
The following are examples of “protected activities.” If an employee does any of these things, he or she is protected from retaliation by law:
- Complaining about illegal discrimination or harassment towards the employee or others
- Reporting or opposing sexual harassment
- Disclosing/reporting violations of law
- Reporting government fraud, waste, or abuse
- Participating in an investigation of discriminatory employment practices
- Filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or Missouri Commission on Human Rights
- Cooperating in an internal investigation of discrimination or harassment
- Serving as a witness in an investigation or lawsuit for discrimination or harassment
- Filing a health and safety complaint with OSHA
- Reporting a work injury or making a worker’s compensation claim
- Complaining about not being paid minimum wage or overtime
Importantly, if you make a report of unlawful employment practices, most laws protect you from retaliation even if your report is ultimately unsubstantiated. To be protected, most anti-retaliation laws only require that you make your report with a good-faith belief that your employer’s conduct violated the law.
For example, an employee who reports what he believes to be discriminatory treatment of a black co-worker cannot be punished even if it turns out the co-worker was not being treated unfairly. Similarly, a woman who reports receiving sexual advances from her supervisor cannot be fired simply even if the employer takes the supervisor’s side.
What Is Adverse Action?
The law wants employees to come forward and report even potential unlawful employment practices, and to that end, provides broad prohibitions against taking adverse actions against employees who make good-faith complaints. Adverse actions can include any action taken for the purpose of reprisal or punishment. The adverse action does not have to result in a loss of pay or affect your position; it is generally enough to show that your employer’s action had a negative impact on your employment, or would discourage a reasonable worker from engaging in protected activity.
Examples of adverse actions that could be considered workplace retaliation include:
- Termination of employment
- Demotion or transfer to a less desirable position
- Reduction in work hours
- Change to work schedule
- Decrease in pay
- Diminished job responsibilities
- Denial of vacation or medical leave requests
- Being passed over for promotions or advancement opportunities
- Negative performance reviews
- Unfair disciplinary actions
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Threats or coercion
- Increased scrutiny
- Spreading false rumors
- Punishing someone close to you
- Making your work more difficult
Of course, the number of ways an employer might retaliate is confined only by the imagination. If you believe that you have been a victim of employer retaliation, it is important to contact an attorney that has experience and knowledge in employment law.
You can get in touch with us today to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.
How to Prove Retaliation in the Workplace
Every business owner or the management of a company understands that workplace retaliation is illegal. But this does not mean that retaliation doesn’t happen. In fact, over half (53.8%) of all complaints filed with the EEOC in 2019 included allegations of retaliation. This is up from 36% just ten years before.
Despite the rise in EEOC complaints, retaliation can be difficult to detect and prove. Your employer is not going to look you in the eyes and say “I am laying you off because you reported sexual harassment,” or “I am dismissing you for performance issues because I can’t legally write down that I am mad you are taking time off for maternity leave.” Because employers are going to do their best to disguise the retaliation, it can make proving these cases a little more challenging.
So, how do you prove retaliation in the workplace? You must be able to prove that you engaged in protected activity. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to ensure your protected actions are documented in writing. If you decide to complain about discriminatory employment practices, for example, you should ensure you make your complaint in writing and keep a copy of your complaint in case it gets “lost” by your employer.
You will also want to ensure you preserve any evidence that you can use to show that your employer’s reasons for taking action against you are false and pretext for retaliation. For example, if your employer fires you for job performance but you had excellent reviews in the past year, you would want to obtain copies of your performance review and any other documents demonstrating that you were doing a good job.
A word of caution: If you attempt to collect evidence to support your case, you should not take any materials that your employer might consider proprietary or trade secrets without first talking to an attorney. Sometimes employers will use the employee’s collection of evidence as a reason for firing the employee. An attorney can advise you on the best way to protect yourself while preserving important information.
Having detailed notes of the dates, times, and witnesses to each retaliatory act can also help you build a solid case for retaliation. Therefore, if your employer starts to turn on you after you made a complaint or exercise your rights, you should begin taking notes immediately so you can remember what happened and testify convincingly if the need should arise.
There are many other ways to prove retaliation. A Kansas City workplace retaliation lawyer can help you identify other circumstantial proof that your employer’s true reason for taking adverse action against you is retaliation. Your attorney knows exactly what type of evidence to look for and will have the legal resources necessary to access that information.
Your attorney will have to show that the actions taken against you were done as retaliation and not in the context that the employer documented the action. Contextual actions can be proven by showing a pattern of actions with that employer as well as through the testimony of other employees.
Additionally, your workplace retaliation attorney will request employment records, question other employees and management, and review all workplace procedures to gather the evidence necessary for your case. Experienced employment law firms have the resources available to find patterns in employment practices to prove that retaliation is taking place.
The Costs of Workplace Retaliation
Some people think that there is little that can be done when an employer retaliates against them in the workplace. These employees quietly accept the fallout from these actions and suffer from the harm the retaliation has caused.
Workplace retaliation can cause financial harm to the employee if they have had their hours cut, been demoted, denied pay raises, laid off, or wrongfully terminated. The financial impact can place undue burdens on the victim and their family.
If the employee has been wrongfully terminated or has unfair or illegitimate disciplinary actions placed in their personnel file, it could hinder their chances of becoming employed at a new company. Additionally, even if the employee is hired at another company, their pay rate and the position may have been hindered because of the information received from their previous employer.
Your legal remedies for workplace retaliation can include damages for lost wages and emotional distress, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, reinstatement, and expungement of negative records in your personnel file.
Hiring a Workplace Retaliation Lawyer in Kansas City
When you are a victim of workplace retaliation, it is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the event to protect your rights. If you delay speaking with a workplace retaliation lawyer about your case, you could lose your right to legal action. You have limited time to take action after experiencing retaliation. Once the time limit has passed, the courts will no longer accept your case.
Workplace retaliation is wrong and can hurt an employee in so many ways. Employees are legally protected from these types of actions, but sadly they still occur. The only choice a victimized employee has is to stand up for themselves and seek compensation for these damages.
You do not have to accept the actions that have been taken against you. Employer retaliation is wrong, and employees are encouraged to stand up for their rights and hold these employers accountable.
If you are a victim of workplace retaliation for any reason, schedule an appointment with a workplace retaliation attorney today. Your attorney can review the facts of your case and give you the necessary information on your rights and the next steps to take to seek compensation for your losses.
For a free and completely confidential case consultation, contact Kevin A. Jones today. There is absolutely no charge until we collect for you.
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Workers Compensation Retaliation
Injured workers shouldn’t lose their job because they reported a work injury. If you need someone to back you up, call a Kansas City worker’s compensation retaliation lawyer.
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Law Office of Kevin A. Jones
17 W Kansas St
Liberty, MO 64068
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The Law Office of Kevin A. Jones is located in Liberty, MO and represents clients in personal injury and employment law cases throughout the Kansas City metro area, including Liberty, Gladstone, Smithville, Kearney, Excelsior Springs, Riverside, Trimble, Platte City, Parkville, North Kansas City, Independence, Raytown, Blue Springs, and Lee's Summit.