Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Georgia employees from a wide range of employer misconduct in the workplace, including harassment, discrimination, and retaliation based upon improper reasons. Still, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that violations of the laws are common. In its report for Fiscal Year 2018, the agency revealed that 51.6 percent of all complaints involved allegations of retaliation – almost 20 percent more than claims based upon sex or disability.
You do have legal remedies if your employer engaged in retaliatory misconduct, but there are certain elements you must prove to enforce your rights. A Georgia workplace retaliation lawyer can explain in more detail, and an overview may also be useful.
- You Were Engaged in Protected Activity: Because Georgia is an employment at-will state, employers have every right to terminate you or take other adverse action. The only exception is where an employer was motivated by a reason that violates Title VII or other civil rights statutes. One such reason is where you were engaging in activity that’s protected by law, such as:
- Opposition: If you were opposing your employer’s misconduct in the workplace, your actions are protected. This might include speaking up about harassment or discrimination, or acting as a witness in an internal investigation.
- Participation: An employer is also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who files a complaint regarding discrimination or harassment.
- Your Georgia Employer Retaliated Against You: Proving this element can be challenging, since retaliatory action by your employer is rarely as obvious as immediate termination, accompanied by a statement that you’re being fired because of your involvement in protected activity. Workplace retaliation laws cover any “materially adverse” action against you by your employer, even those that are more subtle. The EEOC lists some examples of adverse action in the workplace, so you might have a claim if your employer:
- Changed your hours, work location, or job duties;
- Formally disciplined you;
- Demoted you or reduced your salary;
- Engaged in verbal or physical threats; or,
- Otherwise altered the terms of your employment in a negative way.
- Adverse Action Was Based Upon Protected Activities: You must also prove that there’s some link between the adverse action and your engagement in protected activities. This element can also be difficult to prove, since employers aren’t likely to state the reasons behind retaliatory misconduct. To establish your claim, you must typically provide proof regarding timing, knowledge, and the lack of other explanations behind the retaliation.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Georgia Employment Law Attorney
While this information may be helpful in describing what you must prove to establish your rights in a claim for workplace retaliation, experienced legal representation is critical. You can trust our team at the Vaughn Law Firm to protect your interests, so please contact our firm today to set up a no-cost consultation at our office in Decatur, GA. We serve workers throughout DeKalb County, Fulton County, and Cobb County in many types of employment law matters, and we look forward to hearing from you.