Many workers are understandably concerned about complaining of employment discrimination for fear of facing an adverse employment action, such as termination, demotion, being passed over for a raise, or getting an unfavorable job assignment. You should know that federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws make it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who engaged in protected activity (ie, making a complaint) concerning their rights. If you believe that you have been subjected to retaliation at your job, you should consult the Philadelphia retaliation lawyers at Phillips & Associates.Laws Covering Retaliation in the Workplace
Retaliation is one of the most frequently alleged reasons for seeking damages in a discrimination lawsuit under the federal laws that are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Laws enforced by the EEOC include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Retaliation is also forbidden under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance.Protected Activity
The laws interpreted and enforced by the EEOC forbid punishment of job applicants or employees for exercising their right to be free from employment discrimination, including harassment. When you assert, in good faith, a right that you have under a law such as Title VII, your employer is prohibited from punishing you. Protected activity could include refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination against a coworker, resisting sexual advances, intervening to help another worker oppose sexual advances, being a witness for a co-worker who is claiming racial discrimination, or even answering questions during a company’s investigation of harassment. Any act which opposes discrimination is shielded as long as the employee acted on the reasonable belief that something in the work environment violated the laws enforced by the EEOC. A retaliation attorney in the Philadelphia area can help you with claims of retaliation because of your protected activity.
For example, if you file a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC, it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate by terminating you. Likewise, if you complain of sexual harassment to HR, in response, your employer is not permitted to demote you to an unfavorable department. It could also be retaliation if your employer threatens to report your immigration status because you complained of national origin discrimination, or if your employer gives you a lower performance evaluation because you filed a complaint of age discrimination. Retaliation could also consist of spreading false rumors, making your work more difficult, or overly scrutinizing your work.
However, note that you are not completely protected from termination or discipline if you have engaged in protected activity. If an employer is motivated by a non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory motive, it is free to terminate or discipline you. For example, if you embezzle from your employer, you are not protected against being terminated simply because you complained of sex discrimination (of course you may still have a claim of sexual harassment, but maybe not a claim for retaliation). Instead, the prohibition on retaliation is to ensure that nobody else is discouraged from complaining about, or resisting, discrimination in the future.The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Retaliation
Our Philadelphia retaliation attorneys also can bring claims under Pennsylvania state law. Just like federal law, under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), retaliation consists of an adverse employment action taken by an employer against an employee who objects to discriminatory conduct in the workplace, or who has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or EEOC, or has helped with an investigation by these agencies. The PHRA forbids any person from helping, inciting, compelling, or coercing the doing of any illegal discriminatory practice. Retaliation is also illegal under the Pennsylvania Equal Pay Law.
Often, retaliation claims are stronger than the underlying discrimination claim. Under the PHRA, an employer has multiple possible defenses, including failure to file a charge with the appropriate agency, no material harm to the plaintiff, or failure to meet the time period within which to bring a claim (called the Statute of Limitations).City Law on Retaliation
Retaliation is also prohibited under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance. Under the ordinance, retaliation is a materially adverse action that an employer takes against an employee who engages in actions protected by the ordinance. It can include opposing discrimination or filing a discrimination complaint or charge. You are protected from retaliation for opposing discrimination as long as you have a reasonable and good-faith belief that you are opposing an illegal discriminatory practice, and your way of opposing it is reasonable.Seek Advice from an Experienced Retaliation Lawyer in Philadelphia
If you have been subjected to retaliation on the job in Philadelphia, you should consult the experienced employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. You can call us at (215) 315-7694 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
1635 Market St #1600A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 315-7694
Fax: (212) 901-2107