Retaliation for making or supporting a claim of discrimination
or otherwise opposing discrimination in the workplace is unlawful.
Proof of retaliation requires a plaintiff to prove that the plaintiff
engaged in protected conduct such as filing a charge, agreeing to
testify, assisting or participating in an investigation, proceeding or
hearing regarding a discriminatory employment practice. A plaintiff
must also prove that the company was aware of plaintiff’s protected
activity and that the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action
as a result in engaging in the protected activity. An adverse
employment action must impact the plaintiff in a substantial way.
Examples of an adverse employment action are a demotion, a cut in hours
or pay, a substantial change in duties or responsibilities and/or
termination. Proof of intent to retaliate may include evidence that the
defendant retaliated against other employees who had engaged in similar
conduct to that of the plaintiff.
To establish a claim
for retaliation, an employee need not prove that retaliation was the
sole reason for the adverse employment action, but rather, that the
protected activity was a significant factor in the decision to take an
adverse employment action.
Damages in employment
discrimination and retaliation cases include loss of wages and
benefits, loss of future wages and benefits, damage to career and
emotional distress/mental anguish. A court can order reinstatement
and/or other equitable relief against an offending defendant. Punitive
damages are also available under federal law.