You’re at work, doing your job, and something happens – something that you know is wrong. Maybe your supervisor made inappropriate comments to you, or you feel that you missed a promotion because of your age or because you are disabled. Maybe you observe your employer cutting corners when it comes job safety, or the overtime you worked hasn’t been paid.
Perhaps none of this happened to you, personally, but you observed it happening to another employee. Either way, you decide to report what happened and as a result, your employer retaliates by firing you or subjecting you to some other type of negative employment action. You end up penalized for doing the right thing, wondering how you will continue to support yourself and the people who depend on you.
Under federal and Colorado anti-discrimination laws, wage laws, and whistleblower laws, retaliation occurs when an employer takes a materially adverse action against an employee who engages in a “protected activity.” In general, an employee engages in a protected activity when they:
An employee participates in the employment law process when they:
An employee opposes conduct made illegal under federal and Colorado employment law when they:
Under the law, for retaliation to be actionable, it must be “materially adverse.” The employer’s action must be significant enough to have deterred a reasonable person from engaging in the protected activity in question. Whether retaliation exists depends on the circumstances of each case. Actions that are retaliatory in one case may not be retaliatory in another because of differing circumstances. That being said, the following actions can be indicative of retaliation:
Actions or conduct that are simply petty or trivial are not materially adverse because they would not reasonably dissuade a person from engaging in a protected activity. For example, a transfer from an office to a cubicle or a short delay in reimbursement of non-significant business expenses does not rise to the level of retaliation.
In a case of retaliation, an impacted employee must show:
Regarding the protected activity causing the materially adverse action, the employee must show that “but for” a retaliatory purpose, the employer would not have taken the adverse action. In other words, the materially adverse action would not have occurred without retaliation.
Evidence that supports a claim of retaliation includes, but is not limited to:
An employer will often offer a non-retaliatory reason for the adverse action which may include:
If the employer offers a non-retaliatory reason for the adverse action, the employee must show that this reason is simply a pretext for retaliation. If the employee does so, it may be inferred that retaliation motivated the employer’s actions.
A victim of retaliation has several remedies available to them that can help them to recover the damages caused by the employer’s adverse actions. These include:
Workplace retaliation law is complex, and employers will often make every effort to fight retaliation charges made against them. At Marathon Law, LLC, we use our knowledge of workplace retaliation law and our experience in handling workplace retaliation cases to get the results that our clients deserve. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation at 303-704-1222, or via our website contact page.