It can always be frustrating, even devastating, to be to lose your job or otherwise face the consequences for unfair reasons. In North Carolina, employers don’t always need a good reason to fire or demote employees. However, you do have rights as an employee, and your employer cannot legally take any action against you for asserting those rights. Employees often fear retaliation for speaking up, but retaliation for specific behaviors is illegal.
At Harman Law, believe that no employer should ever get away with unfairly retaliating against workers who are entirely within their rights to speak up. If you have been illegally fired, demoted, or otherwise unfairly treated, our experienced Charlotte and Lake Norman retaliation attorneys will help you fight to hold your employer accountable for the harm they’ve caused you. If your employer’s retaliation against you was linked to speaking up against other employment law violations, we could help you fight them for those as well.
When retaliation is illegal in North Carolina
North Carolina is an ‘at-will’ employment state. This means that employers can fire or demote their employees for a number of seemingly unfair or arbitrary reasons. The exception is when in doing so they violate workers’ rights that are explicitly set out by federal or state law. Here are some of the reasons for which your employer cannot legally retaliate against you:
- Speaking out or filing a claim about workplace discrimination or harassment
- Pointing out workplace safety violations
- Discussing pay and benefits with your coworkers
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation for your disability
- Taking leave to which you are legally entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Being a whistleblower on legal violations you see
- Taking any other action which state or federal law says employees have a right to take
Many employers who retaliate against employees for taking these actions count on the victims not knowing that their unfair treatment is illegal. It is vital that you know your rights as an employee so that you will be prepared to fight back if they are violated. If you have faced any type of illegal retaliation from your employer, the North Carolina retaliation lawyers of Harman Law are ready to help.
What Retaliation Looks Like
For some victims, retaliation is as evident as losing your job or facing a significant demotion. For others, retaliation can take subtler forms. Here are some examples of behavior by your employer that can constitute retaliation:
- Firing you
- Demoting you
- Cutting your pay
- Cutting your benefits
- Cutting or changing your hours
- Putting you ‘out to pasture’ by giving you only meaningless tasks
- Intentionally giving you the least desirable assignments
- Reassigning you to a different location
- Other forms of workplace punishment
Any of these forms of punishment can have a hugely negative impact on your current and future finances, as well as your overall wellbeing. Remember, however, that these behaviors are only illegal if they are done in retaliation for something you had the legal right to say or do.
Holding your employer liable for illegal retaliation
To hold your employer accountable for retaliation, you will have to prove that they punished you because of your legally protected conduct. If you were fired, demoted, or otherwise punished before you did or said the thing for which you are alleging retaliation, you will not be able to hold your employer liable. Likewise, if your employer can prove that what they did was unrelated to retaliation and instead the result of another, actually punishable action you took, you will not be able to hold them liable for retaliation. An experienced Charlotte retaliation lawyer from Harman Law can help you determine whether your employer did anything illegal by punishing you.
Winning compensation from your employer for retaliation
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a retaliation claim against your employer may be wrapped up in another claim related to other workplace violations, such as employment discrimination or sexual harassment. Employers sometimes think they can get away with retaliating against you when you file such a claim. Depending on the nature of your case, you may have already filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In any case, if you can hold your employer liable in your retaliation claim against them, you may be able to recover damages for a number of costs, including:
- Lost income since the time of your firing or demotion
- Future lost income if you are unable to return to your position
- Pain and suffering
- Attorney and court costs associated with your claim
- Compensation for any other claims against your employer, such as unpaid overtime, which may have been the cause of their retaliation against you in the first place
Some of these costs can be difficult to calculate, but your lawyer can help you determine how much your case is worth. At Harman Law, we are dedicated to helping our clients seek every penny of compensation to which they are legally entitled.
Dealing with illegal workplace retaliation is a difficult time in your life. In addition to suffering financial consequences you never deserved, you have to deal with the sting of being betrayed by your employer, and sometimes a feeling of hopelessness at the thought that violations you tried to point out will go unpunished. You don’t have to face this difficult time alone. A North Carolina retaliation lawyer can help.
At Harman Law, we believe wholeheartedly that employees should be able to assert their rights without fear of retaliation. Our Lake Norman area employment retaliation attorneys have a deep knowledge of North Carolina employment law and are dedicated to using that knowledge to fight for employees who have faced illegal retaliation. We will work with you to put together a case against your employer not only for retaliation but for any violations you were trying to point out in the first place. For more information on how we can help and to set up a consultation, call us now at (704) 885-5550.