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Retaliation?

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by Guy This, Dec 31, 2020.

  1. Guy This

    Guy This Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello. Just wondering if I have a case worthy of pursuing. Please don’t sugarcoat. Either I have one or not..Any info is greatly appreciated.

    I have been in charge of certain assignments at my job for past 18 years. New admin group came in a few years ago and many things changed. The workplace became very toxic, very cut throat. As a result, morale continues to be low, employees have transferred, many have gone on stress leave.
    I was asked to be part of a meeting to address these issues and explained what so many individuals in my dept explained was the problem. Toxicity, lack of managerial support, and fear for retaliation. Within a day I was taken away from my post of 18 years, reassigned to another job duty, moved to an area where management has me under watchful eye, shift times changed, no communication or updates about job duties relayed to me, and requests whether they be vacation or work accommodations denied.
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    It is not always that clear cut; there are situations in which whether you could win a lawsuit against your employer for some illegal practice or action depends on what evidence each side has to support its version of events and, importantly, how the fact finder (judge or jury) hearing the case views that evidence.

    Just based on this, it looks like the employer retaliated against you for speaking out at that meeting. Of course, other information might change that assessment, and it would be important to hear the reasons your superiors claimed were the reason for these changes.

    However, even if it was retaliation, it is important to understand that most retaliation by an employer is legal. In general it is illegal when the employer retaliates against you because you exercise some employment related right/remedy that you have under the law.

    For example, federal law makes it illegal for an employer with at least 15 employees to discriminate against an employee on the basis of the employee's race, color, national origin, citizenship, religion, sex, age (if the employee is at least age 40), disability, or genetic test information. The law provides the employee with a remedy for illegal discrimination that includes filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In addition, the law protects the employee from the employer retaliating against the employee for having made that EEOC complaint. California also has laws on illegal discrimination in employment that protects more characteristics than federal law does.

    The problem that I see is that, just based on the information you provided it is not clear that the employer is retaliating against you for anything protected by law. With an exception that I'll mention next, an employer is free to fire you or otherwise retaliate against you for expressing your views that management sucks, the workplace is toxic, etc as long as it has nothing to do with illegal discrimination.

    The exception here is that workers who organize together to improve pay or working conditions are protected from retaliation by the employer for that organized effort (and it doesn't have to be union activity). So a group of employees coming together to tell the employer that the workplace sucks and that they want to see certain changes to make it better are protected under the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) from retaliation for that. But if just a single employee goes to his manager and says the workplace sucks, he's not protected and may find himself out of a job the next day. Note too that generally supervisors are not covered by the NLRA; the law is primarily targeted at helping rank and file employees.

    So the details of your position (e.g. are you a supervisor/management employee), who organized the meeting, and whether you were speaking just for yourself or were representing a group of employees would be important factors here.

    Even if there is illegal retaliation, there is the issue of what damages you have suffered as a result of it. You only win money in court for legally recognized damages, like financial loss, that you suffer from the retaliation.

    You may want to meet with an employment law attorney to go over all the facts and see if you have something worth pursuing. There just isn't enough information here to make that call. Most attorneys will give you a free initial consultation, so you have little to lose but a bit of time.
     
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  3. Guy This

    Guy This Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you so much. Just to answer a few of your questions. I am a union employee. A)Yes, there have been several complaints brought forward by other employees. B) the meeting was called by the administrator in question and another senior leader.
    I will also seek the advice of an employment law attorney. Again, I thank you and appreciate your reply.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Have you been to your union rep?
     
  5. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    What you have described is not ILLEGAL retaliation under the law. It may or may not be under your union contract.

    Unless there are facts you have not shared, any recourse is going to be through your union.
     
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  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    You are a union employee. So, to be clear, you are not a supervisor? If not a supervisor then if you were there representing the views of a group of employees the retaliation here may indeed be a violation of the NLRA. You don't have to be the union steward or other union official to be protected. I agree seeing an employment law attorney is a good idea.
     
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  7. Guy This

    Guy This Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yea I have and they feel it is under grounds to file a grievance.
     
  8. Guy This

    Guy This Law Topic Starter New Member

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    No I am not a supervisor and yes I went in as a representative for a group of employees who have been feeling the same way and wanted to voice their concerns as well.
     
  9. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    In that case I'm going to backtrack a bit. I still don't believe you have a case for illegal retaliation under the laws that generally cover that, but you may have under the NLRA. I acknowledge that I was not thinking of that in my first post. I still think your best bet is through your union, but I absolutely agree that talking to a labor law attorney would be a smart move.
     
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  10. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    If your union is willing to grieve this then that would be a good first step to resolving the problem. You may still want to see an employment law attorney to go over your options should the union not resolve this favorably for you.
     
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  11. Guy This

    Guy This Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply. Yes I understand if this was a isolated incident or maybe even a handful of cases it may or may not have a chance in court but I’m talking more than half of our dept. (easily over 80 individuals) have been treated in a way where it has had an effect on their performance, attitude, and mentality.
     
  12. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Let's be clear. It is not illegal to have a poor, or even a toxic work environment. Nothing that you have described with regards to the treatment of the employees, however poor, gives rise to any legal claim whatsoever. To put it another way, if there is anything illegal in the way the employees are being treated, no matter how poorly, you have not described it here.

    If there is any illegality here, it is in firing you for attempting to address working conditions on behalf of your fellow employees, which may be a violation of the NLRA. Your union and/or a labor law attorney can help you sort that out.
     
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