Most Oklahoma employees are aware that there are laws protecting them from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. However, they may not be aware that those same laws protect employees from workplace retaliation, which occurs when an employee is punished for engaging in legally protected activities.
Retaliation comes in different forms but usually results in a negative job action such as dismissal, discipline, demotion, wage reduction, or job reassignment. Retaliation can also be more subtle, such as stifling promotion opportunities or excluding an employee from activities that he or she would otherwise be a part of in order to punish that employee for making a complaint.
Legal protection from retaliation
Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file complaints about workplace harassment or discrimination. In addition, there are federal and state laws that protect whistleblowers who report unsafe or illegal workplace conditions. In Oklahoma, employees are protected from retaliation for participating in a number of protected activities, including:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Filing a lawsuit against an employer’s customer for a work-related injury
- Reporting illegal or unsafe activities in the workplace
- Filing a compliant complaint regarding a violation of certain labor laws
- Refusal to violate Public Health Code provisions
- Testifying in a proceeding concerning workplace conditions or labor law violations
If you believe that you are a victim of retaliation, you should first discuss your concerns with your immediate supervisor or human relations representative. If your employer does not have a legitimate explanation or refuses to remedy the situation, you may need to elevate your complaint to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff in retaliation claims, so you will need to prove a link between your complaint and your employer’s retaliatory behavior. For this reason, it’s important to seek legal representation from an employment law attorney instead of attempting to handle your claim on your own.
Have you been discriminated against or harassed at work? If so, seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. right away. Our team will fight to protect your rights and recover compensation from your employer. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.