When an employee alleges that he or she faced retaliation after attempting to report misconduct within your organization, there are a number of protections afforded to that person. There are also several key steps that individual (along with an attorney) are likely to take as the claim proceeds.
These steps include the following:
- Proving the employee engaged in “protected activity.” “Protected activity” is any form of comments made to an employer or outside body that are protected under whistleblower laws. Some laws require individuals only to report misconduct internally, while others point them directly to a government agency.
- Proving the employer knew or believed the employee engaged in protected activity. The reason a plaintiff would want to prove this element is that it allows him or her to show the protected activity in question is what motivated any ensuing retaliation. If the employee reported misconduct directly to human resources or a supervisor, he or she may have a strong claim.
- Proving the employee suffered an adverse action. This adverse action does not necessarily have to be termination from a position. It could be demotion, a less favorable financial position, emotional abuse in the workplace or any other adverse action that clearly results from the employee’s protected activity.
- Proving a protected activity caused the adverse action. Proving causation is the final element of proving retaliation against an employer. The standards to which the plaintiff must prove causation vary depending on the laws applying to the particular case, but in general, plaintiffs and their lawyers will look at any and all evidence that could be represented as retaliation.
For further guidance on how your company should respond to retaliation claims, contact the experienced Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers.