Wrongful termination and workplace retaliation are on the rise. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer illegally ends an employee’s contract, usually for invalid reasons. Workplace retaliation is a form of employee punishment whereby an employer uses disciplinary measures against an employee after that employee engaged in legally protected activity. Types of retaliation include demotion, pay cuts, and reassignment. Wrongful termination is prohibited at all times, and a company that is found guilty of wrongful termination will be forced to pay penalties. Workplace retaliation is prohibited under federal law, but employees who suspect they are being retaliated against are obligated to report harassment to regulatory bodies. Don’t be a victim. Protect yourself from wrongful termination and retaliation by following these simple steps.
Know Your Rights
Knowing your employee rights is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself. Your employer is significantly less likely to engage in retaliatory activities or illegally end your employment if he believes it will come back to haunt him. Familiarize yourself with federal and state employment laws. If you are asked to sign a contract, read it thoroughly to ensure you are not waiving any employment rights. In appropriate situations, casually demonstrate your knowledge to your employer in a non-confrontational manner.
Open Up A Dialogue
The best way to protect yourself is to prevent yourself from entering a situation where your employer wants to take disciplinary action against you. Do your best to maintain a good working relationship with your superiors and colleagues. If you are having issues, request a meeting to work out the problem. Stay considerate and make an honest effort to make things work. A good-faith attempt to repair the relationship may resolve issues of retaliation. Even if it doesn’t, it will work in your favor if you later decide to go to litigation.
Know Your Employer
Read your employment contract and employee handbook. Dig up as much information as you can about your employer’s human resources policies. Inform your supervisor that you would like to see your employee file, and know your employer as well as you know yourself. Talk to trusted coworkers about their opinions of the human resources staff. Do research on reputable business review websites about your employer’s past achievements and indiscretions. If you suspect your employer has a history of employee mistreatment, find documentation of such a history. The more you know about your employer, the better prepared you will be to fight a wrongful termination in court.
Leave A Paper Trail
If push comes to shove, you may find yourself in a court of law filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. In the event that you have to take your employer to court, you will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your employer mistreated you. The judge presiding over your case will want to see that you have done your homework. Keep a copy of every document that you and your employer have ever sent to each other. Your lawsuit will have a greater chance of success if you can document when, where, and how your employer violated your rights.
Ideally, wrongful termination and retaliation should not occur in any workplace. If you suspect that your employer is treating you unfairly, schedule a meeting with your immediate superior to discuss the problem. Know your employment rights and never waive them. Researching your employer will give you information that may inform your course of action, and leaving a paper trail will be of value should you need to go to court. If all else fails, consult an attorney about your options. Don’t abide illegal activity in the workplace; you have a right to be treated fairly.
If you believe that you are a victim or workplace retaliation or wrongful termination, seek the advice of a legal professional immediately.
Ginarte, O’Dwyer, Gonzalez, Gallardo & Winograd, LLP is an employment litigation law firm serving the New York and New Jersey communities. For more information about wrongful termination and workplace retaliation, visit the website at www.Ginarte.com.