Retaliation Lawyer Austin and Houston, Texas
Are You a Victim of Workplace Retaliation?
Many employees who experience harassment in the workplace or a hostile work environment are afraid to report their claims for fear of retaliation by their employers. When an employer retaliates against an employee for engaging in a lawful protected activity, the employer could be liable for damages. If you have suffered from retaliation, we strongly urge you to contact a retaliation lawyer Austin and Houston as soon as possible.
Retaliation claims often involve job loss, but employers can retaliate in many other ways, including demotions, pay reductions, or other adverse employment actions. In most cases, employees can prove retaliation claims when these actions are taken shortly after an employee has engaged in a lawfully protected activity, such as reporting a discrimination claim or taking Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) leave.
Leichter Law Firm PC fights to protect the rights of employees all over Texas in a wide variety of employment industries. Call (512) 495-9995 or fill out an online contact form to have our Texas retaliation lawyers review your case. We can help you understand all of your legal options during a free consultation.
What Is Retaliation in the Workplace?
Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee when they attempt to exercise their workplace rights under federal or state law. Examples of these rights include the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, health and safety violations, and the right to protection as a whistleblower.
Unlawful retaliation is strictly prohibited under several important state and federal employment laws. Some of the most notable laws include the following.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964: This federal law prohibits retaliation against an employee for protected actions such as reporting unlawful discrimination, filing a charge for discrimination, reporting unlawful payment practices, or other actions.
- Texas Labor Code Chapter 21: This Texas state law prohibits retaliation employees for participating in a protected activity. Examples of protected activities include reporting discrimination, submitting a charge to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and any other protected activity.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): This federal law protects job applicants and employees aged 40 and older from discriminatory hiring and firing practices, as well as other aspects of employment.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): This federal law protects applicants and employees from discriminatory employment practices based on their disability status. One could file a retaliation claim if they asked their employer for reasonable disability accommodations, only to then be demoted or moved to another department.
Types of Workplace Retaliation
Workplace retaliation can take many forms, both overt and subtle. Some forms of retaliation are more common, just as others are more obvious. However, any action by an employer that affects an employee’s working conditions and position can be considered retaliatory. Some common examples of retaliation in the workplace include the following.
- Bad performance reviews
- Changes in work schedules
- Transfers to lesser departments
- Changes in benefits or payment
- Denied promotions or pay increases
Although the number of retaliation claims brought to the EEOC have fallen in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of charges filed is still alarming. In 2020, the EEOC received more than 67,000 workplace discrimination complaints. Retaliation is the most common charge, making up more than 56% of all charges filed.
According to EEOC charge receipts for the state of Texas, there were 6,508 charges filed in 2021, which made up 9.6% of all U.S. charges. Retaliation made up 3,768 of these charges, which is 57.8% of all Texas EEOC charges. Of all the retaliation charges filed in the United States, Texas makes up 10% of them.
Did your employer retaliate against you for engaging in a lawfully protected activity? You could be entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered. Contact an Austin employment lawyer as soon as possible to fight for your rights as an employee.
Can You Sue for Retaliation in Texas?
Yes. If you have been the victim of unlawful retaliation in Texas, you have the right to file a retaliation complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division. As long as you meet the following requirements, you may file a complaint with the TWC.
- Physical address of your workplace is within the state of Texas
- Workplace has more than 15 employees
- Discrimination or retaliation must have occurred within 180 of when you submit the complaint
- Allegation must specify one of the following types of discrimination:
- Sex or gender
- Complaint must identify the adverse action by the employer
How Do I File a Retaliation Complaint in Texas?
You can file retaliation complaints against your employer in several ways. One way is by submitting a complaint with the TWC, the EEOC, or the NLRB. You can also call any of those entities in order to submit your complaint.
We also recommend contacting a skilled Austin retaliation lawyer for your case. An employment attorney with considerable experience with retaliation cases will have what it takes to help you fight for your legal rights. The Austin employment lawyers at Leichter Law only represent employees, not employers. We offer free consultations to those in need of legal representation, and we counsel them on the best course of action.
If you suffered retaliation, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or any other negative employment action, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
What Makes a Strong Retaliation Case?
By working with an Austin employment lawyer, you can rest assured that your claim will meet all necessary requirements for a legitimate case. Our attorneys will also ensure that we gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen your claim, giving you the best possible chance of success. In order to have a strong claim of retaliation, you must be able to show the following three elements.
- You engaged in a protected action, and your employer knew you participated in the protected act.
- Your employer then retaliated against you through termination of employment, a demotion, pay decrease, or other illegal act.
How to Prove Retaliation in the Workplace
Now that you know the elements you must show, what specific evidence can you use to support your claim? Depending on the form of retaliation, you can use a wide variety of direct and circumstantial evidence in your case. Some examples of evidence you can use in your case include the following.
- Documentation of the discrimination or harassment that you kept in writing with dates and times
- Demotions, including in pay, bonuses, positions, privileges, and benefits
- Refusals of promotions or raises
- Denying other opportunities, such as paying for travel or continuing education
- Reductions of hours or salary
- Unnecessary and hostile micromanagement
- Reassignment to a different role or department, often with fewer responsibilities and benefits
- Intentional exclusion from meetings, workplace events, or training
- Unfounded negative performance reviews
- Harassment or bullying from either your employer or your co-workers
- Termination of employment
There are many other forms of workplace retaliation that you can file a claim for. With enough evidence, you may be able to take legal action against your employer and demand compensation for your losses.
How Can My Employer Defend Against a Retaliation Claim?
It is exceedingly rare that an employer would admit to retaliation or discrimination against an employee, as these are illegal actions. To avoid facing a retaliation claim, many employers try to twist the story or refute your claim altogether. Some common tactics include the following.
- Claiming a legitimate reason for adverse action, such as tardiness
- Establishing that they adhered to company policy
- Claiming that they investigated complaints quickly and thoroughly, even when they did not
Retaliation claims are among the most common and most expensive claims filed with the EEOC against employers. Thus, employers will do everything in their power to disprove your claim or even dismiss it outright. This is when working with an employment law specialist will help your case the most.
Workplace Retaliation FAQs
It will not prevent you from filing, but it could make pursuing your claim more difficult. In the case of qui tam lawsuits, or whistleblower lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act, it can be more difficult to collect evidence if you quit. Also, the amount you can recover in such cases could be reduced based on the date you quit. Always talk to an attorney before making any drastic employment decisions.
Employers have multiple ways to challenge retaliation claims. The simplest method is usually through proving that the employer did not know of the employee’s protected activity. In other cases, employers may lean on “for cause” terminations based on poor work performance or misconduct. An employer could also identify other employees who were treated similarly and did not engage in protected activity or employees who engaged in protected activity but did not suffer any retaliation.
Do I Need a Retaliation Lawyer?
Many employees think that their retaliation cases are fairly clear-cut and will not be too difficult to prove. The same people are often shocked when their employers deny liability and claim their actions were “for cause.”
Remember that many employees in Texas are considered “at-will,” which gives employers the power to terminate employees for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. “For cause” terminations are generally when the employer believes you have violated the company’s policies or practices or the terms of your employment. When an employer is accused of retaliation, the chances are good that they will have excuses already worked up to justify their decision.
Proving retaliation can be far more difficult than most people expect, which is where an attorney will prove most beneficial. Your lawyer will be able to conduct an independent investigation to gather important evidence relating to your claim that can help prove your case.
Types of Retaliation Cases We Handle
Retaliation claims involve an employee engaging in protected activity and an employer responding with an adverse employment action. The retaliatory action could be termination, but it also might be a demotion, a decrease in pay, a change in work schedule, or any other adverse action that creates a hostile work environment or negatively impacts employment.
The reasons why employers retaliate can also vary. Some of the most common causes of retaliation include:
- Filing an EEOC charge of discrimination
- Filing a whistleblower action
- Taking maternity leave
- Taking FMLA leave
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Reporting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations
- Filing a Texas Workforce Commission charge of discrimination
- Participating in an EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) investigation
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation
- Filing an overtime pay complaint with the United States Department of Labor
- Reporting unpaid wages
- Reporting illegal accounting or violations of securities laws
- Taking jury duty
- Complying with a valid subpoena
- Refusing to perform an illegal activity
Retaliation claims can often involve separate claims, such as possible discrimination. It may be possible for the other related claims to be dismissed while the retaliation claim survives.
When you suspect retaliation, you can certainly speak to your human resources manager to try and get a written explanation as to why adverse actions were taken. It may be possible that an employer has a perfectly valid answer for their decisions.
Most people who notice unfavorable actions being taken shortly after protected activities can probably assume the decisions were intended to be retaliatory. You should still contact a discrimination lawyer to discuss the specifics of your situation and the best way to proceed.
Why Choose Leichter Law Firm PC to Handle My Case?
Leichter Law Firm has handled multiple retaliation actions for numerous clients. In one case, we settled the case of a woman for a confidential amount after she was terminated by an airline employer. She complained about a co-worker who sexually harassed her and refused to work in the same areas as the man. The airline then terminated her employment.
Louis Leichter is the founder of Leichter Law Firm PC and has received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2018, a peer rating denoting the highest level of professional excellence. David Langenfeld is Board Certified as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law.
Our firm is based in Austin but also has offices in Houston and McAllen. We are committed to holding employers accountable for their actions.
How Much Can You Sue Your Employer for Retaliation?
If you decide to pursue a claim against your employer, you have the right to seek compensation from them. State laws allow for several types of compensatory damages, including the following.
- Back pay or front pay
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of benefits
- Attorneys’ fees
You may even be able to claim punitive damages if your employer’s actions were particularly egregious. Punitive damages intend to punish the employer and dissuade others from committing the same acts. These damages are difficult to win, but they are still a possible form of recovery.
Contact a Texas Retaliation Attorney Today
Leichter Law Firm is committed to helping employees in Texas harmed by the actions of their employers. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (512) 495-9995 or contact us online to receive a 100% free and confidential consultation.