Retaliation Claims on the Rise

Retaliation Claims on the Rise

The Washington Post November 2nd Article regarding the rise in retaliation claims focuses on changing laws and attitudes about workplace bias as the reasons for the steady growth in these types of claims.

If you’ve been practicing law in the employment arena long enough you don’t need statistics to know a change has come and stayed.  With the expansion of employee legal protections and employees’ ability to obtain more information through the internet and other media platforms, employers must be vigilant and cautious in discrimination matters.

According to the United States Department of Labor, a record 38,539 retaliation charges were reported in fiscal year 2013 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws.

The article cites such cases as Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, where the Supreme Court found discrimination even though the employee claims was not demoted or fired from his position, but was instead given less desireable assignments, and Thompson v. North American Stainless, a 2011 case where the court ruled that the claimant, fired after his fiance accused their mutual employer of sex discrimination, could sue the employer for discrimination.

An equally material element in the increase in employee discrimination and other claims is the pernicious economy that has permeated the United States for almost seven years.  As noted in the article and as I’ve discussed with various employment law attorneys, complaints of discrimination and retaliation align with the economic trends, increasing during a difficult economy.

Thus, employers should be weary of and cautious when terminating employees.  Create internal procedures for performance evaluation and termination.   Avoid acting impulsively and emotionally and document!

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