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Laws prohibit your employer from retaliation in certain cases

Your employer has a right to discipline you for poor work performance or attendance, up to and including termination. Usually, this type of action requires a lot of paperwork and your employer has to tell you exactly where you went wrong and why they are taking the action they are. The reason employers take so much care when disciplining employees is that they are not allowed to extend discipline as a form of retaliation.

This means that an employer cannot use discipline to respond to an employee who is exercising any type of protected rights. You cannot be punished or retaliated against for asserting your rights against discrimination or sexual harassment or reporting instances of either of those things, for example.

Employers are also not allowed to retaliate against workers who oppose a practice that is illegal. If you refuse to do something illegal, report illegal activity or testify as a called witness in a case about illegal activity, your employer isn't supposed to retaliate against you.

The type of things employers might do that could be construed as illegal retaliation include marginalizing a worker so he or she can never move up, refusing to promote a qualified worker solely because of a desire to retaliate or refusing to give a pay raise for the same reason. Docking pay, unfairly going after an employee for numerous minor offenses when others are not treated the same way and termination for no other reason can also be forms of illegal retaliation.

If you feel like you are being retaliated against for asserting your rights or reporting illegal behavior, then you might have a case against the employer. If you have lost your job, fear for your job or are working in a hostile work environment, consider speaking with a lawyer today.

Source: HR Hero, "Retaliation in the Workplace," accessed April 29, 2016

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