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No one should suffer from illegal treatment at work, but the thought of possible retaliation can often prevent mistreated employees from reporting their concerns. As a result, these workers may endure pervasive harassment, theft of wages, discrimination, and may even be forced to perform illegal activities out of fear of losing their livelihood. An experienced attorney can help a person through this process.
Tennessee and federal law make it illegal for any person or company to retaliate against a worker for exercising their rights as employees. A Tennessee workplace retaliation lawyer can work with clients who have been victims of retaliation to hold their employers accountable and obtain compensation for their troubles.
Workplace retaliation is defined as any negative impact upon a worker’s employment status that occurs because that worker exercised their legal rights. Common examples of retaliation may include:
If any of these actions are taken against a worker, it is recommended that they record the rationale their employer gives as to why. While workplaces retain the right to discipline their employees, they cannot do so if the discipline stems from a worker speaking out against unjust or illegal treatment.
Businesses are always motivated by their bottom lines, which in turn can cause an unscrupulous manager or owner to cut corners in potentially malicious or illegal ways. If a worker reports these activities to the appropriate authority, whether it be the Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that worker is always protected against retaliation by whistleblower statutes.
In the same vein, the law also protects all people who file complaints with either their own Human Resources department or the State’s Equal Employment Office.
Workers are also protected when they report their employers for violations of wage laws. Any withholding of wages, even when done out of necessity if the employer simply cannot afford to pay on time, is illegal. Similarly, all workers who rely on tips or commission for their income cannot have those resources withheld by the company.
Companies are forbidden from retaliating against any worker who accuses them of harassment. In addition, Tennessee law strictly forbids any form of harassment that may lead to the development of a hostile workplace.
It can sometimes be difficult to prove a retaliation case. In an ideal scenario, there will be direct documentation produced by the employer stating that the worker was fired because they reported a safety violation. Most employers, however, are savvy enough to avoid doing this. Instead, retaliation must often be proven through circumstantial evidence.
Circumstantial evidence can come in many forms that leave a jury no choice but to conclude that retaliation took place. If a worker is fired immediately after exercising their rights, for example, it strongly suggests that the two events were connected.
Similarly, if an employee can provide documentation that proves that the employer knew of the employee’s actions in exercising their rights, it creates evidence that the two actions are linked.
No one should be punished for doing the right thing. Both Tennessee and the federal government recognize this in the form of whistleblower statutes, put in place to protect people who exercise their rights as workers.
If workplaces choose to ignore these laws and punish employees who stand up for themselves, the workers have the right to file a lawsuit.
Our dedicated and experienced legal team stands ready to help. We perform detailed investigations to collect evidence of retaliation against our clients. We then present this evidence with clarity to juries to argue for our clients’ rights. Contact a Tennessee workplace retaliation lawyer today to see how we can assist your case.