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Standing up for yourself at work is hard, especially when an employer tries to use intimidation tactics to prevent you from enforcing your employment rights under state or federal law. Any form of intimidation an employer uses to discourage you from exercising your rights is unlawful retaliation, and Brenton Legal can take your employer to task for this behavior. 

At Brenton Legal, our experienced attorneys work hard to help ensure Florida employees are treated fairly in the workplace and the job market. So if you are looking for a skilled Florida employer retaliation lawyer, you should give us a call. 

What Is Unlawful Workplace Retaliation? 

Because Florida is an at-will employment state, your employer normally has a right to fire or punish you for any reason or no reason at all. This may seem unfair, but at-will is generally the rule in most states. But some exceptions prevent your employer from firing you for specific reasons. For example, your boss cannot punish or fire you if their actions are motivated by an illegal reason. 

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Illegal Motivations

It is illegal for your boss to take adverse employment action against you for engaging in one of the following protected activities: 

  • Asserting your right against employment discrimination based on your race, age, religion, sex, color, pregnancy, marital status, national origin, or disability; 
  • Mentioning or initiating a complaint regarding workplace safety violations; 
  • Discussing wages with supervisors or co-workers;
  • Taking family or medical leave;
  • Refusing to engage in unlawful behavior;
  • Properly reporting the illegal activities of your employer; 
  • Initiating a complaint regarding your employer’s failure to pay you;
  • Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits; or
  • Assisting another individual in the enforcement of their rights as an employee against their employer. 

And even if your attempts to assert your rights are unsuccessful, your employer cannot punish you if you had a reasonable belief that your employer was breaking the law.

Retaliatory Actions

There are many ways employers across this nation retaliate against employees with valid legal claims against them. Unlawful retaliation can include:

  • Terminating an employee’s job,
  • Reducing an employee’s pay, 
  • Transferring an employee to an unwanted position or location, 
  • Eliminating an employee’s benefits, 
  • Harassing an employee, 
  • Excluding an employee from job or training opportunities, 
  • Refusing to hire a job candidate,
  • Demoting an employee, or
  • Threatening to punish an employee. 

Pay close attention to the timing of any adverse actions taken against you in the workplace and speak to a skilled Florida employer retaliation attorney at Brenton Legal. If punishment or mistreatment occurred suspiciously close to when you engaged in a protected activity, you likely have a retaliation claim on your hands.

Proving Unlawful Retaliation

You have a right to confront your employer about its retaliatory actions, but that confrontation is rarely easy. Employers can defend themselves from complaints against illegal retaliation by claiming that they had non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for disciplining their employees. In many cases, these employer claims are false, and employees need to collect solid evidence to show their employers had unlawful motivations. 

You can prove that your employer did not have lawful reasons to punish you by presenting evidence of your stellar work history, discriminatory statements made by your employer, or your employer’s failure to punish similarly situated employees who did not assert their rights. This evidence can include the following:

  • Witness testimony,
  • Correspondence, 
  • Copies of employer policies, 
  • Wage records,
  • Pictures,
  • Personnel records, and 
  • Copies of employment agreements. 

If you decide to initiate or help with a complaint against your boss, speak to an attorney immediately and start taking notes about any significant events that occur in your workplace. A knowledgeable employment attorney can help you gather all information necessary to help you in your complaint and protect you from an employer’s retaliatory behavior. 

Initiating a Retaliation Complaint

Several government agencies enforce employee rights against employer retaliation. Depending on the reason your employer unlawfully disciplined you, you can file a complaint with one of the following agencies: 

  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
  • The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), or 
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). 

If you plan to file an EEOC complaint, your employer must have at least 15 employees, and you must file within 180 days (or 300 days if your complaint is covered by state law). You have to initiate FCHR complaints within 365 days. And you have between one and three years to file a wage complaint with the DOL. You can also file a retaliation lawsuit in civil court, but you will likely need to submit a government complaint first. 

Remedies for Employer Retaliation

So, what can you recover in a complaint after an employer unlawfully punishes you? You can receive financial compensation and other remedies, including:

  • Back pay, 
  • Liquidated damages,
  • Compensation for financial losses,
  • Reinstatement of benefits,
  • Punitive damages,
  • Payment for emotional distress, 
  • Job reinstatement or placement, and 
  • Legal costs. 

Just like it might argue that there were legal reasons to discipline you, your employer might try to diminish the damages you are owed. A skilled advocate from Benton Legal can help maximize your damages and ensure that your employer is held responsible for all relief you deserve. 

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