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What might retaliation look like?

Being mistreated or punished in the workplace can be very upsetting. Not only can such conduct be emotionally painful, it can also jeopardize a person's employment status and livelihood. As such, it is important to know if actions like a firing or demotion are illegal.

One reason why something like termination might be wrongful or illegal is if it is retaliatory. In this post, we will examine what retaliation is in the legal context and what it might look like.

What the laws say

Retaliation is the act of firing or otherwise punishing an employee for participating in protected activity, which is activity in which employees have the right to participate. This includes reporting discrimination, requesting an accommodation and filing a complaint about workplace harassment. 

Numerous Ohio and federal laws explicitly prohibit retaliation in the workplace

What retaliation looks like

As we mentioned, firing someone for engaging in protected activity is one common example of retaliation. There are others, including:

  • Demoting a worker
  • Transferring the worker to a less desirable location
  • Changing his or her schedule to purposefully cause personal conflicts 
  • Withholding pay or bonuses
  • Cutting the person's pay
  • Cutting the person's hours
  • Starting hurtful rumors
  • Being especially critical or negative about the worker's performance
  • Physically hurting or threatening to hurt the worker

These can all be ways that an employer retaliates against an employee. 

However, these actions are not always retaliatory. An employer is generally within his or her rights to discipline or terminate a worker for any other reason, so long as the decision is motivated by something other than retaliation or discrimination.

If you have questions about whether you are the victim of retaliation, then it can be crucial to discuss your legal options with an attorney. Depending on the details and evidence in your case, you could have grounds to file a lawsuit seeking financial damages.

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