There are several sources in which to report your employer’s discriminatory and/or unlawful conduct both within the company (i.e. employer’s human resource representative) or through an outside authoritative source (i.e. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or another government agency).
As an employee, you should feel comfortable reporting discrimination and harassment claims based on protected characteristics such as sex, race, and disability in the workplace because it is a violation of the law for your employer to punish you for filing a complaint on such grounds.
What Constitutes Employer Retaliation?
It may be difficult to determine if you are being retaliated against by your employer for filing a complaint of discriminatory conduct in the workplace. Retaliation may come in many forms:
- Denial of Promotion
- Reduction in Pay
- Unwarranted disciplinary action
Proving Employer Retaliation
Those who feel as though they have been retaliated against for lawfully reporting an employer’s discriminatory or unlawful conduct have two options. The first option is to file a retaliation claim with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The second option is for the employee to bring a retaliation lawsuit against their employer. To bring a retaliation lawsuit, the employee plaintiff must establish:
- The employee engaged in a protected activity under Title VII or Kentucky Civil Rights Act (i.e. reporting employer’s discriminatory or wrongful conduct to a supervisor or company Human Resources Department);
- The employer knew of this complaint of discrimination or other unlawful employment practices prior to taking adverse actions against the employee;
- The employer took an adverse employment action again the employee (i.e. discharge, suspension, etc.); and
- There was a causal connection between the adverse action and the protected activity
For either option, it is important to consult an attorney to discuss your claim’s likely outcome. Moreover, in order to file suit for retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and obtain a Notice of Right to Sue prior to filing suit in either federal or state court under Title VII. However, there is no such requirement to file with a governmental agency like the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to be able to file a lawsuit in state court for retaliation pursuant to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
It is also important to note that it is only required for the employee’s filed complaint against the employer alleging discrimination or other unlawful actions to be a reasonably held and good-faith belief on the part of the employee. An employee is allowed to report a suspicion of an employer’s wrongful conduct without fear of retaliation because an untrue claim still does not give an employer the ability to retaliate against the employee.
If it is found that you have experienced retaliation from your employer, you may be able to recover lost wages and compensation for the emotional distress, personal indignity, humiliation and other related damages caused by your employer’s unlawful retaliatory conduct.
If you feel as though you are the object of workplace retaliation by your employer, contact the trusted attorneys at Charles W. Miller & Associates at 502-273-0234 to discuss your legal options.