Employees in Lorain County should understand that Ohio and federal employment laws prohibit not only employment discrimination, but also retaliation against employees who “blow the whistle” on suspected discrimination, or who otherwise oppose suspected discrimination in the workplace.
Employment discrimination laws like Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and others make it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against employees who engage in what is called “protected activity.” Some examples of protected activity include:
- Complaining about employment discrimination;
- Cooperating in a discrimination investigation;
- Filing a discrimination lawsuit;
- Filing an administrative Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
- Opposing sexual harassment or other types of harassment or discrimination in the workplace;
- Refusing to participate in discrimination;
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation of a disability or religious practice.
Illegal retaliation can take many forms beyond obvious ones like firing and demotion. Any action taken against the employee that would dissuade a reasonable person from complaining about discrimination or participating in a discrimination proceeding (or to put it another way, from engaging in protected activity) constitutes illegal retaliation. Some examples include, threats about job security, threats of physical harm, unjustified poor job evaluations, taking away favorable job assignments, unjustified discipline, or increased surveillance.
The anti-retaliation provisions exist so employees will feel safe speaking out against unlawful discrimination without fear for their jobs. While run-of-the-mill workplace annoyances and slights do not necessarily constitute retaliation, more serious actions might. If your employer suddenly changes the way it treats you shortly after you have engaged in “protected activity” under the employment discrimination laws, you might have a claim for retaliation. In fact, according to EEOC statistics, retaliation claims have been the most common it has received every year since 2009, reaching over 41% of all claims in 2013.
If you work in Lorain County, or anywhere in the Cleveland area, and feel you have been retaliated against for blowing the whistle on discrimination at work, contact an experienced employment law attorney right away.