How to Prove Employer Retaliation in Tennessee
From overtime law violations to severance agreements, unlawful employment practices can take a heavy toll on workers and violate their employee rights. Retaliation on part of employers is a common form of workplace misconduct in Tennessee, making it all the more important for employees to understand and assert their rights as needed.
Unfortunately, employer retaliation can be difficult to recognize and even more challenging to prove in court. What steps can Tennessee employees take to protect themselves against unfair retaliation at work? Keep reading to learn how to take swift and effective legal action after being mistreated or discriminated against in the workplace.
Employer & Workplace Retaliation Laws in Tennessee
Workplace retaliation is defined as any negative action taken against an employee in response to them exercising their rights under the law. Common examples of retaliation against Tennessee workers include:
- Penalizing employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination and harassment
- Firing or demoting employees for engaging in legally protected workplace activities
- Reducing employee benefits or hours without cause
- Excluding employees from company events or communications
- Any other adverse action against law-abiding employees
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for taking certain protected actions, such as filing a wage claim or reporting illegal conduct. Examples include demotion, suspension, termination, pay cuts, and changes in job duties.
4 Red Flags That May Indicate Employer Retaliation
Experiencing retaliation and other forms of mistreatment in the workplace can inflict undue harm on an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing and impact their financial security. It’s important for Tennessee workers to familiarize themselves with common signs of workplace retaliation and stand up for their employee rights when needed.
Consider these top 4 signs of employer retaliation in the workplace:
1. Your employer treats you differently after exercising your employee rights.
From reporting an instance of discrimination to requesting family leave that employees are legally entitled to, there are various reasons why an employer may choose to retaliate against employees. If you notice shifts in the company’s behavior, treatment, or attitude toward you, this may be a red flag of workplace retaliation.
2. Your employer goes out of their way to exclude you at work.
Ignoring and excluding employees is a common way that employers choose to retaliate. If your employer makes an effort to exclude you from workplace activities or communications, regardless of how subtle the effort may seem, this is likely an indication of retaliation.
Maybe you’ve noticed your boss giving you the silent treatment or going out of their way to make you feel unwelcome at company gatherings. Maybe they regularly “forget” to notify you of meetings. Such actions can be a sign that you’re being retaliated against. If your employer demonstrates any of these unlawful behaviors, it’s best to consult with an employment lawyer who can protect your rights at work.
3. You receive negative performance reviews or feedback without cause.
Another common way that employers can retaliate against workers is by giving unjust and undeserved feedback in the form of negative evaluations or performance reviews. Performance reviews are often used by employers to evaluate employees’ performance, progress, efficiency, and more. This information can then be used to determine promotions and raises.
If an employee in question has reported prior acts of misconduct in the workplace, such as discrimination or sexual harassment, a negative performance review can be seen as retaliatory, as some Tennessee employers use negative performance reviews to punish employees for legally protected activities.
Under the law, performance reviews are to reflect an employee's job performance and nothing else. In the event that a company or employer permits any personal opinions to interfere with an employee’s evaluation, the employee can fight to recover compensation in court.
4. Your employer wrongfully terminates you for protected conduct.
In the state of Tennessee, employment is considered “at-will.” This means that employers have the right to hire, fire, suspend or discipline any employee at any time. However, wrongful termination occurs when an employer wrongfully terminates a worker for protected conduct.
In Tennessee, “protected conduct” refers to legally protected actions that an employer cannot use as a basis for firing, punishing, or discriminating against an employee. Common examples of protected conduct include:
- Filing a complaint with HR
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Refusing to participate in illegal activities
- Reporting discrimination in the workplace
- Objecting to instances of sexual harassment
When an employer terminates an employee for exercising their legal rights, then they may be liable for retaliatory discharge, a type of retaliation entailing wrongful termination. To prove retaliatory discharge in court, it’s imperative to seek help from a qualified employment law attorney who can help fortify your case with sufficient evidence, demonstrate that the termination was motivated by malice or bad faith, and fight to recover the compensation you deserve.
Strong Representation for Wronged Tennessee Employees
For over 35 years, our passionate employment lawyers have represented wronged workers throughout the Mid-South in a range of employment issues, from workers’ compensation claims to wage and hour violations. If you’ve been mistreated in the workplace, you deserve help from an accomplished employment law attorney who can protect your rights and restore your financial security.
At Donati Law, PLLC, we only represent employees, not employers. We understand how distressing employment law disputes can be, as it can be daunting to face large and powerful companies in court on your own. That’s why our compassionate legal advocates are here to help you exercise your employee rights and demand the compensation you deserve after suffering injustice in the workplace.
Turn to a trusted employment law attorney to defend your rights in the workplace. Call (901) 209-5500 to schedule a free consultation.