Retaliation Lawyers in Seattle

If an employer has retaliated against you because you exercised a protected legal right, our retaliation lawyers can help fight for you. At Rekhi & Wolk, we have successfully represented hundreds of employees who have experienced retaliation at the hands of their employers. If you believe an employer unfairly and unlawfully retaliated against you due to your exercising a legal right, you may be entitled to lost wages, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. 

Retaliation Claims Can Have Very Short Statutes of Limitations

Please be aware that the timeline to file a retaliation complaint with the appropriate governmental agency can be as short as 30 days from the notice of adverse action. It is critical in these whistleblower cases to quickly contact the appropriate governmental agency, file a claim, and preserve your rights. It is advisable to speak with a workplace retaliation attorney as soon as possible.

Examples of Workplace Retaliation Claims

The circumstances surrounding workplace retaliation are virtually endless, but workplace retaliation often occurs after an employer takes adverse action against an employee for:

  • Reporting wage or overtime violations
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim
  • Requesting family leave or medical leave under FMLA or Washington law
  • Complaining about discriminatory behavior
  • Reporting illegal employer or employee behavior (commonly referred to as “whistleblowing”)

In each of these cases, the employee has a legal right to take one of these actions and the employer is prohibited from taking any sort of adverse action against the employee in return.

What Forms Can Workplace Retaliation Take?

It is important to note that workplace retaliation doesn’t always result in the wrongful termination of the employee. This is clearly the most egregious form of workplace retaliation, but it is certainly not the only one. Workplace retaliation often involves:

  • The denial of a promotion 
  • The demotion of the employee
  • Decrease in hours or shifts
  • Denial of a pay raise
  • Assignment to an undesirable task or job
  • Harassment by managers, supervisors or even coworkers

This is far from a complete list of the forms of workplace retaliation and sometimes, it can be even harder to identify. If you suspect you may be experiencing workplace retaliation, reach out to Rekhi & Wolk to speak with a Seattle workplace retaliation lawyer.

What Are the 3 Elements of Retaliation Claims?

In order to file a successful workplace retaliation claim, there are three elements that must be met.

Protected Activity

There are certain activities protected by law against which your employer may not retaliate. These activities include complaints of:

  • Unlawful discrimination
  • Wage and hour violations
  • Worker health and safety
  • Public health and safety
  • Fraud, government corruption, and others

There are other protected activities that do not involve whistleblowing, such as:

  • Filing for workers’ compensation
  • Taking family or medical leave 

Identifying whether the actions you’ve taken are considered protected activity is the first step in establishing a claim of retaliation.

Adverse Action

The second element to establishing a case against your employer is proving that you have suffered adverse action by your employer. Adverse action can take the form of being fired, demoted, suspended, or other disciplinary action given by your employer, as well as acts of determent to engage in protected activity, such as assigning the employee to undesirable tasks or the reduction of hours.

Cause & Effect

You must also be able to prove that your employer’s adverse action was motivated by your protected activity. Proximity of time between the two events is key in establishing cause and effect. However, other facts and circumstances can help establish this causation element such as shifting reasons from your employer for the adverse decision.

Keep in mind that it is not only your employer who is forbidden from retaliating against you for engaging in protected activity, but also all agents of your employer including supervisors and managers.

FAQ

What is considered employer retaliation?

Retaliation is any negative action taken by an employer because you engaged in a protected activity. These negative actions could include being fired, demoted, disciplined, or other subtler actions such as discouraging your pursuit of protected activities.

What laws protect against workplace retaliation?

There are several laws that protect employees from retaliation from employers. The Washington Law Against Discrimination and Title VII protect employees who participate in an investigation of discrimination or harrassment. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance protect employees when they complain about missed wages and other payment issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) protects employees who report workplace hazards. These are only a few of the laws that protect employees from workplace retaliation.

Does retaliation have to be egregious?

No. Some employers take actions such as reassignment while your complaint is being investigated, but if this action hurts your work performance or results in lesser earnings or prestige, this can also be considered retaliation.

Why should I hire a lawyer to help with my retaliation claim?

Our retaliation lawyers have been successful in proving employee claims of employer retaliation. The process of proving these claims is often complicated and it can be difficult to determine if what you’ve experienced in the workplace would be considered retaliation under the law. An employment lawyer can support you through the legal process and help you with all the legal logistics.

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