Pursuant to both federal and Washington state law, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who have complained about their workplace, either within the company or to an outside agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee who complains about workplace environment, files a charge against the employer, testifies in a case against the employer, or consults with anyone knowledgeable about employee rights. If you have been the victim of workplace retaliation, it is essential that you seek the support of a strong employment attorney to protect your job and legal rights in employment.
What Our Workplace Retaliation Lawyer Can Do For You
Located in Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle, Sapphire Legal is a superior employment law firm representing employees in protecting their rights in employment. Our lead attorney, Kristi Favard, routinely handles workplace retaliation claims. As your dedicated legal representative, she will counsel you on how to proceed after she has examined your documents and reviewed the facts, which may include mediation, arbitration, or litigation.
Kristi is an excellent negotiator and litigator. She has the experience and skills to achieve a successful outcome for you, whether that involves reinstatement to the position you lost, restoring your damaged reputation, and/or getting you monetary compensation for lost income or opportunities and emotional distress. Well aware that your livelihood and your family’s security is at stake, Kristi has a combination of professional experience, passion, and compassion aimed at providing you with peace of mind and security not only relating to your legal claim but also for your future.
Protected Retaliation Claims in Washington State
Not every retaliatory act is illegal. It is perfectly acceptable for an employer to fire you because you insulted him or her, drew a disrespectful picture on the bathroom mirror, were rude to a client, or made a crucial accounting error. Retaliation and termination, however, is prohibited when you have accused your employer of wrongdoing, such as:
- Discrimination on the basis of age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, disability or the need to use a trained dog guide or service animal
- Wrongful treatment or termination for taking medical leave
- Violating personal or environmental safety standards
- Discriminating or taking action against an employee for complaining of a violation of the Minimum Wage Age Act Discriminating or taking action against an employee who  refused to commit an illegal act  performed a public duty (e.g. jury duty or military service) or  exercised a legal right (e.g. to vote).
Most often, retaliation claims are made by an employee who has been a “whistleblower,” meaning an individual who has exposed illegal behavior on the part of his/her employer. There are many laws in place, both on federal and state levels, that pertain to retaliation against whistleblowers, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) for those over age 40
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
- Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD)
- Various other state and federal laws providing for labor rights such as farmworker rights, worker’s compensation retaliation, labor and Industries violation reporting, etc.
In addition, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), which was enacted after the most recent financial crisis, provides added protection for employees who inform the Securities and Exchange Commission about securities fraud. Similarly, The Sarbane-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) protects individuals employed at publicly traded companies who give information on mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, or shareholder fraud.
The Exception to the Rule
Generally speaking, reporting your employer for misbehavior that does not affect the public good will not trigger laws that protect you from retaliation. Things like making public an embarrassing or disreputable incident in your employer’s private life, for example, are not actions that are protected by anti-retaliation laws.
However, any action by your employer that may be interpreted as a punishment or penalty against you for making a complaint is against the law. Moreover, even if your complaint turns out to be invalid, anti-retaliation laws protect you from retaliation as long as you complained in good faith and without malicious intent. Additionally, not every act of hostility or rudeness is illegal and there is no law against workplace bullying unless such actions are based on your status as a member of a protected class.
Types of Workplace Retaliation in Washington State
As with most kinds of misconduct, workplace retaliation can be blatant or covert. The reason for the retaliation is almost always disguised by language that blames the victim for “lack of productivity” or “insubordination.” Workplace retaliation can take any of the following forms:
- Negative work evaluations
- Being relocated to a less pleasant work area
- Demotion in terms of assigned title
- Salary decrease
- Taking away benefits or other perks
- Firing or other termination
All of the above types of retaliation are fairly obvious and observable by other staff members. However, other kinds of retaliation may be more subtle, such as not being included in particular meetings, having your ideas dismissed rather than evaluated, and being responded to coldly or disrespectfully. No matter what type of retaliation you’re up against, it creates an uncomfortable and even toxic atmosphere. Furthermore, if the retaliation resulted in demotion or wrongful termination, you have also taken a serious financial hit. Sapphire Legal will fight to obtain monetary compensation for your lost income, other damages, and your attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of your employer’s retaliation against you.
Contact Our Everett Workplace Retaliation Attorney
No matter your occupation, Sapphire Legal is here to protect your right to feel safe and secure in your workplace. If you believe that you have a legitimate retaliation claim, or are unsure whether you do, contact our office. We will evaluate your situation and help you if we can. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can step in on your behalf. We will work tirelessly to make you whole.