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Could you face retaliation for exercising your rights at work?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2021 | Employment Law

You should not have to deal with a workplace environment that makes you feel uncomfortable.

However, if you assert your rights and complain about the problem, will your employer retaliate against you for expressing your opinion?

About workplace retaliation

An employer might retaliate against an employee who exercises his or her workplace rights by using adverse actions. Punishment might include lack of promotion, demotion, an unfavorable assignment change, some form of discipline or termination. In order to prove retaliation, the employee must show that he or she engaged in a protected activity and was punished for it.

Protected activities

An employee can either sue the employer directly or file a complaint with a regulatory agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the evidence supports the claim, the agency can then sue the employer on the worker’s behalf. Examples of protected activity include:

– Resisting sexual advances or trying to protect others

– Reporting harassment

– Requesting accommodation for religious practices

– Reporting discrimination in the workplace

– Requesting pay for overtime worked

Employer accountability

Since Texas is an at-will state, your employer can terminate you for almost any reason except in matters concerning protected activities. If you can prove that a request or objection was within your rights and your employer retaliated against you, the company may face liability. Your employer may owe you double back wages and damages for emotional distress. Your employer may also have to compensate you for any lost benefits and reinstate you in your previous position if that is your wish. In short, you should not fear exercising your workplace rights. You have legal options to pursue if retaliation occurs.