What Does Retaliation Mean In American Law?

Law Blog

The concept of retaliation is a rather striking one, and it can be challenging to picture how it fits into American law, especially if you are not a retaliation lawyer. However, it does make sense in the specific context of employment. Here is what a retaliation lawyer does and the types of cases they're likely to handle.

Retaliation at the Workplace

When someone talks about retaliation in the legal sense, they're almost always referring to workplace retaliation. This is when an employer or manager uses their position to get back at an employee. For example, they might reassign someone who had filed a sexual harassment complaint against the company's owner.

Causes of Retaliation

The range of possible causes of retaliatory actions is about as diverse as the ways a workplace can be bad. Sexual harassment is a common source of retaliation. Likewise, some businesses retaliate against people who've tried to organize unions or take up concerns about working conditions. Businesses may also retaliate against whistleblowers.

Forms of Retaliation

Unsurprisingly, the forms of potential retaliation are as diverse as the causes. Companies frequently reassign people. Notably, the reassignment doesn't have to carry with it financial or on-the-job hardships. Even if a reassignment simply pushes someone unnecessarily out of a position they had enjoyed, it might be deemed retaliatory.

Notably, most businesses avoid overt retaliation. It's rare to see a company hit someone with a pay cut, for example. If a business drops someone's hours, they might do it slowly to avoid the appearance of retaliation.

Also, many businesses maintain files on their workers' conduct to cover for retaliating against them. It's not uncommon for a retaliating employer to decide to investigate a complaint against an employee that had been dormant. Suddenly, an employee's attendance or performance may become of great interest after years without problems.

Proving Retaliation

One of the big reasons you might want to hire a retaliation lawyer is because proving it is quite hard. People are wise to the legal risks of direct and overt actions. This means you usually have to document how the company treats similarly situated employees to show that someone was getting back at you. The same goes for documenting the timing of retaliatory conduct.

Document everything once you believe you are the subject of retaliation. Even if you haven't hired a retaliation attorney, write down the time and nature of every worrisome interaction. Save all electronic communications, too. Retaliation cases are often about tying statements and actions to specific changes at particular times. For more information, contact a retaliation lawyer.


2 March 2021

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