Retaliation/Reprisal Claims


I think my employer fired me because I filed a sex discrimination claim.



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What is retaliation or reprisal, and how do I prove it?


Reprisal includes any form of intimidation, retaliation, or harassment committed by the employer to punish or retaliate against you for making a discrimination complaint. To prove retaliation or reprisal you must show that:
1. your action was protected by law;
2. your employer took adverse action; and
3. there was a causal connection between your conduct and your employer’s action.


What is "protected conduct"?


Protected conduct includes opposing employer practices that are unlawful, making a discrimination complaint, filing a charge, testifying, or participating in an investigation. Your belief that your employer’s acts are unlawful must be reasonable.


How do I show that my legally protected conduct led to my discharge?


You can show a causal connection by presenting evidence of circumstances that would lead someone to infer that there was a retaliatory motive on behalf of your employer. An example of this would be showing that your employer had actual knowledge of your protected activity and that the adverse employment action followed closely in time.


Must I show that my employer knew about my "protected conduct"?


Yes, you need to show that your employer had actual or imputed knowledge of your protected conduct.


I’ve just received a warning from my employer, and


I suspect I will be fired soon. What should I do?


Keep thorough documentation of everything that happens at work. Any evidence that may show that your employer had a retaliatory motive in firing you will greatly help your case.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?


Your employer could present evidence showing that it had a legitimate reason for the adverse action taken against you. Evidence of the elimination of your former position, lack of retraining, or failure to rehire someone for a long period of time could further its defense that a reason other than reprisal or retaliation motivated the action. Ultimately, however, you must show that your complaining about sex discrimination (or your "protected conduct") more likely than not led to the adverse action.



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