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Employment Retaliation Attorneys in Wilson, North Carolina

Of all the charges filed each year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation routinely tops the list, coming in at above 50 percent. Retaliation is any adverse action taken by an employer against an employee who was merely exercising their rights under the law.  

Termination is the ultimate form of retaliation, but retaliation comes in many other ways, some subtle, some not so subtle. From an employee standpoint, the problem when facing employer retaliation is the fear that by speaking up or filing a complaint, matters will only get worse – even lead to a discharge – and then there may be no recourse to recovering your job or wages.  

If you feel you’ve been retaliated against by your employer in Wilson, North Carolina, contact Lusby & Brooks, P.A. for legal help. Our employment law attorneys have the tools and resources to consult with you, investigate the circumstances you describe, and advise you of your legal options going forward.  

Lusby & Brooks, P.A. also proudly serves clients throughout North Carolina, including Wilmington, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro.

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What Is Retaliation? 

Both federal and North Carolina statutes prohibit retaliation against employees. Federal mandates against retaliation commenced with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to which Title VII applies to private employers. Other statutes with anti-retaliatory measures soon followed, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).  

In 2016, the EEOC finalized its Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues. The EEOC website on retaliation now simply defines the term before going on in detail: “Retaliation occurs when an employer takes a materially adverse action because an applicant or employee asserts rights protected by the EEO laws. Asserting EEO rights is called ‘protected activity’."  

Nowadays, protected activities range far and wide from reporting sexual harassment or safety violations at work to speaking with coworkers about their pay rates, refusing to carry out acts that violate public policy, refusing to participate in discriminatory activities, participating in an EEOC investigation, and more.  

On the state level, North Carolina enforces its own Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA). Protection against retaliation is also covered under the state’s Equal Employment Practices Act and under the Persons with Disabilities Protection Act. 

Examples of Retaliation 

In addition to the protected activities listed above, which should be legally conducted at work without fear of retaliation, actual acts of retaliation can be more hidden or subtle. For instance, your employer may retaliate by isolating you in a workspace away from contact with others or changing your work schedule so it becomes hard to have a private life. You may be assigned a shift beginning when everyone else is going home. Your work hours may even be cut.  

Another form of retaliation is denying you advancement opportunities. Others may be getting training so they can rise in the ranks to a more robust position, while you are suddenly ignored. Your employer may also start declining your time-off requests or even find a way to limit your overall benefits. You may also find yourself suddenly not being invited to company functions, formal or informal, that you normally attended before being retaliated against.  

Of course, bad performance reviews also play into the picture. You may have gotten positive reviews in the past, but suddenly the reviews contain critical comments and cautions about how you need to improve your performance. This could all be a prelude to letting you go. 

Proving Retaliation 

You must first file a complaint about retaliation before you can proceed to sue. For instance, you have 180 days from the date of the retaliation to file a charge with the EEOC. This can be extended to 300 days if your home state also has anti-retaliatory laws on the books, which North Carolina does.  

The EEOC then has several options, including investigating the claim, mediating, filing a lawsuit on your behalf, or issuing you a Right to Sue notice. It can also close the books if it doesn’t find enough evidence.  

To prove a charge of workplace retaliation, you will need to show that you:  

  • Witnessed or experienced illegal discrimination or harassment.  

  • Engaged in a protected activity.  

  • Were retaliated against by your employer because of your protected activity. 

  • Suffered damage as a result. 

It should be noted, however, that employers are in their full rights to take disciplinary or other actions if an employee performs poorly or engages in misconduct. A charge of retaliation is no defense to the actual consequences of your work performance. 

Whistleblower Protections 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) not only fields complaints from employees about workplace violations of the safety and health standards originating in the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and its implementing regulations, but it also enforces 22 specific “whistleblower” laws.  

These laws are often industry-specific – covering, for instance, seaman and railway workers – but also include environmental statutes covering clean water, asbestos, toxic waste, and other substances and practices. These laws protect those who blow the whistle on violations by employers, such as unsafe railway operations.  

OSHA will enforce your whistleblower rights.

Employer Retaliation Attorneys Serving Wilson, North Carolina

If you or a loved one has been subjected to retaliation at work for your protected activities, you need to proceed immediately to file a charge with the EEOC or state agency to get the process started. If you’re in North Carolina and need to pursue your rights against retaliation, contact us at Lusby & Brooks, P.A. today for legal help. We have the resources, knowledge, and experience to assist your situation.