There are many reasons why employers might terminate an employee or move them to a less desirable shift. These actions, as well as other adverse employment actions like pay decreases, are perfectly legal as long as they aren't made due to discrimination, as harassment or for retaliatory reasons.
When an employer takes an adverse employment action for one of these illegal reasons, the employee can take action. Proving that these actions were discriminatory can be challenging, however. Here are some important points to remember when determining your next course of action:
What actions are considered adverse?
Adverse employment actions have negative impacts on employees. In order to be cited as part of a retaliation claim, these actions have to occur after the discriminatory situation, harassment or complaint. You will need to show that the adverse action resulted from your complaint or report.
Retaliation can also occur in response to an employee's willingness to speak up about a situation with another employee, e.g., testifying in a harassment or discrimination case. Another situation in which retaliation might occur is when employees cooperate in cases against their employers. This frequently occurs after safety violations have been reported and investigated.
There are many adverse actions that employees can face. Some, such as termination or demotion, are obvious. Others aren't so blatant. Some employers might move the employee to a different shift that is less desirable for the employee. They could also reassign an employee's job duties or have him or her report to another location. The key here is that it has to be something negative for the employee, e.g., making their commute much longer or choosing a shift that doesn't mesh with the employee's lifestyle.
How can retaliation be proved?
Retaliation is proven is by showing that the employee didn't do anything that should have led to the action. In some cases, going over the employee's work record, including evaluations, can help prove retaliation took place. It is important for workers to continue carrying out their job duties to the fullest extent possible so that their employers can't claim that they were doing substandard work.
Many different factors can come into the picture in these cases. It is imperative that any worker making a claim of retaliation understands that they must be willing to participate in building the case. This could be a lengthy process, so be prepared for this possibility.