When an employee feels they have been wronged by an employer, they may file a legal claim against their employer for retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for participating in a protected activity. Some examples of retaliation may include:
- Terminating an employee for reporting discrimination and/or harassment to a supervisor.
- Demoting an employee for cooperating with an EEO investigation or serving as a witness.
- Denying legitimate employee request for FMLA leave of absence.
- Isolating an employee or excluding them from meetings for refusing to commit illegal acts.
Even the most careful employers may find themselves at the wrong end of a retaliation lawsuit. An employment law attorney specializing in employment law defense can review your case and help come up with an effective strategy to defend against the employee’s claims. Here are a few ways to defend against a retaliation claim.
Establish legitimate reason for adverse action
If you are facing a retaliation claim, you will need to establish that the adverse action taken against the employee was for a legitimate, legal reason. For example, if an employee says he was terminated for complaining of harassment, you can provide performance reports to show that the employee was terminated for poor performance, not for filing harassment complaints.
Establish you adhered to company policy
Ideally, you will have company policies in place to address common workplace issues including harassment, discrimination, whistleblowing, and retaliation. For instance, an anti-retaliation policy can guide employees on what to do if they believe they are being retaliated against. If you are sued by an employee, you can then refer back to these policies and show that you followed them carefully.
Show you investigated claims promptly
Employees may claim that their complaints were ignored or improperly addressed. If you can establish that all claims were investigated promptly and thoroughly, you will have a better chance at success.
Defending against employee retaliation claims is never easy. For advice on how to handle any claims you are facing as an employer, you should consider contacting an attorney in your area.