Properly establishing your employment retaliation case

On behalf of Fox & Fox, S.C.

Participating in discrimination and harassment is wrong in any setting, but in a workplace, it can create a hostile environment. Those who speak out against such acts should receive positive acknowledgements. However, in many cases employers may try to punish them.

If you find yourself being bullied in the workplace or have received some type of adverse reaction to you speaking out against discrimination or harassment at work, you may have an employment retaliation case. There are a few things you will need to understand and prove to establish your case.


An individual speaking out against improper acts in the workplace is the catalyst for any retaliation instance. Therefore, employees must show they reported an instance of discrimination or harassment against themselves or another employee. Reporting such acts is a protected activity; therefore, it is illegal to punish anyone for doing so.

Adverse action

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides a full breakdown of what acts an employee cannot receive punishment for and what acts by an employer constitute retaliation. Some adverse actions include:

  • Termination
  • Verbal or physical abuse
  • Demotion
  • Purposefully making a workload increasingly difficult

These are just a few of the possible adverse actions an employer may be caught doing. To prove the case, employees should try to gather evidence, such as documents, eyewitness testimonies, and recordings.


The final part of the proof process is to show a link between the employee reporting the disparaging act and the employer taking the adverse action. In most cases, employers try to validate their actions, or in claims of physical abuse, they may deny them altogether. Having solid evidence will aid in disproving their claims or supporting those of the employee.

Though the elements of the proof process are simple, it takes quite a bit of work to build a case properly. It may be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable attorney to gather necessary evidence and prove your case so you can receive the justice you deserve.

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