Employer Retaliation and Reprisal Lawyer Serving Maryland and Washington D.C.
Also Serving Howard and Anne Arundel Counties, Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Columbia, Frederick and Silver Spring,
Attorney Joyce E. Smithey represents employers, as well as public and private employees, in matters involving allegations of retaliation and reprisal. If your company has been accused of retaliating against an employee, or if you have faced retaliation or reprisal as a result of blowing the whistle or exercising your legal rights, contact Ms. Smithey today for a confidential consultation.
Under state and federal law, employers in Maryland are subject to a number of restrictions when it comes to retaliating against their employees. These restrictions apply to both private and public employers, including the State of Maryland. For employers, retaliation claims can have significant financial consequences, not to mention the operational and public relations ramifications that tend to flow from a successful retaliation lawsuit filed by an employee.
As an employee in Maryland, if you believe that you may have faced retaliation in the workplace, it is important to stand up for your legal rights. If you have a retaliation claim and your claim is successful, depending on the nature of your case you may be entitled to recover double back pay plus your legal fees and other damages. However, pursuing a successful retaliation or reprisal claim can be a challenge; to protect your rights, you will want to have an experienced employment law attorney on your side.
Examples of Protected Employee Conduct
There are several examples of employee conduct wherein any employer retaliation or reprisal is prohibited. Perhaps the most well-known is the practice of “whistleblowing” – reporting illegal activity, abuses of authority, severe health and safety violations, and certain other improper practices. However, whistleblowers are not the only employees who the law protects against retaliation. Other examples of protected conduct include:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Demanding proper wages or overtime pay
- Taking leave for medical reasons or to care for a family member
- Any other conduct that is specifically protected by law
Some of the federal laws that prohibit employment-related retaliation include:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Civil Rights Act (Title VII)
- Equal Pay Act
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- False Claims Act
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
In addition, the Maryland State Personnel and Pensions Code prohibit the State of Maryland, including all branches and units except the Department of Transportation and the University System of Maryland, from “coercion, discrimination, interference, reprisal, or restraint,” based upon a state employee’s decision to pursue a grievance, complaint, or action against his or her employer.
Examples of Prohibited Retaliatory Action and Reprisals
Retaliation, like protected conduct, can take many forms. Termination is certainly among the most severe – and perhaps most common – forms of retaliation. However, lesser forms of “punishment” and “discipline” will support retaliation and reprisal claims, as well. Examples of prohibited retaliatory action include:
- Termination of employment
- Demotion or passing over for promotion
- Any other employment-related decision or form of employment-related discrimination based upon an employee’s protected conduct
The Key to a Successful Retaliation Claim: A Causal Link
In any case, the key to a successful retaliation claim is for the employee to establish a causal link between his or her protected conduct and the employer’s action. Generally speaking, it is not enough for an employee to simply establish, for example, that he or she was fired after reporting a potentially dangerous safety violation. The firing could be unrelated or the timing could be completely coincidental; and, if that is the case, the employee will not have a claim for retaliation.
That said, there are a number of ways, both direct and indirect, that employees can demonstrate a causal link between their protected activity and their employers’ subsequent conduct. These days, one of the most common forms of direct evidence is email communication. There have been many retaliation and reprisal cases in which company executives’ or managers’ own words have been used to prove that an employee was entitled to compensation. As an example of indirect evidence, if a long-time employee with a history of positive reviews is suddenly fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, the timing alone can be suggestive of unlawful retaliation.
As perhaps you can begin to see, retaliation and reprisal claims can easily become quite complex. To protect your interests – as an employer or an employee – it is critical to put experience on your side.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Maryland Employment Attorney Joyce E. Smithey
If you would like more information about filing or defending against a retaliation claim in Maryland, feel free to schedule a consultation with employment lawyer Joyce Smithey. With offices in Annapolis, Ms. Smithey represents employers and employees statewide. To discuss your case in confidence, call Smithey Law Group LLC or get in touch online today.