It is illegal for an employer to fire you for asserting a protected right, such as complaining about being sexually harassed, filing a complaint about a violation of wage and hour laws, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim. While it is against the law for employers to engage in certain types of retaliatory discharge, it unfortunately happens in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Mid-Cities area. If you lost your job for this reason, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against your former company for compensation for your lost wages, mental anguish and attorney’s fees. However, you must first prove your case.
Elements of a Retaliatory Discharge Claim
As with other types of legal cases, you have the burden of proving your claim against your ex-employer. Here’s what you have to establish in a retaliatory termination case:
● You engaged in a protected activity. A protected activity includes complaining to your employer about discrimination, reporting unsafe working conditions to OSHA or the Texas Workforce Commission’s Safety Hotline, , or participating in the investigation of a co-worker’s discrimination complaint. For public employees, it may include reporting a violation of law to an appropriate law enforcement authority (whistleblowing)
● You were terminated by your company. You must prove you were terminated and did not quit of your own accord (except in very rare cases).
● There is a causal relationship. You must prove your protected activities was a motive for your discharge.
Types of Evidence Used to Prove Retaliatory Discharge
When pursuing a retaliatory discharge claim in the Dallas/Fort Worth/Mid-Cities area, it is critical that you prove the causal relationship between your protected activity and being fired. There are two types of evidence that can be used:
● Direct evidence. Direct evidence of retaliation includes admissions by your boss that you were terminated due to your protected activities. This can include statements made in emails, letters, memos, and conversations. However, many employers are careful to avoid these incriminating statements.
Circumstantial evidence. In many cases, you will need to use circumstantial evidence to prove your case. This may involve creating a timeline to show how your employer treated you differently before and after you asserted your rights – for example, if you received only positive performance evaluations before your employer discovered your protected activity, then negative performance evaluations afterward. It could also involve establishing that your employer claimed to be disciplining you for minor infractions that other co-workers were allowed to engage in, such as coming to work late.
What to Do If You Believe You Were the Victim of Retaliatory Discrimination
If you suspect you were the victim of retaliatory discrimination, you need the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney to pursue your legal options and gather the evidence you need to prove your claim. Contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation to learn how attorney Walt Taylor can help.