Retaliation & Whistleblowing
Serving Clients in Boston and Throughout Massachusetts
Illegal retaliation in the workplace means taking negative action against an employee as the result of the employee engaging in legally-protected behavior. Such negative action can include termination, demotion, a failure to promote or almost any other type of negative consequence. Workers cannot be “punished” for the following types of behavior, which is not an exhaustive list:
- Filing a worker’s compensation claim
- Making a report or claim concerning illegal discrimination
- Making a claim regarding illegal or wrongful work practices, including grievances and unfair pay practices
- Filing a whistleblowing claim (sometimes referred to as a “qui tam” claim) alleging that an employer is defrauding the government
- Making claims regarding unsafe working conditions with government agencies
- Other matters protected under state and federal law.
While the laws protecting employees is complex, in general workers are protected against retaliation by their employer for engaging in these types of protected activities. If an employee is terminated by an employer, for example, after filing a workers’ compensation claim, she will have a claim for wrongful termination based upon illegal retaliation. The worker will still need to prove that the termination was because of the filing of the workers’ compensation claim, of course, and not an independent reason.
As Boston retaliation and whistleblowing lawyers, we serve clients throughout Massachusetts in seeking to protect their rights against illegal practices. Please call to learn more about your options if you are facing retaliation for whistleblowing.
How Long am I Protected Against Termination or Another Negative Consequence?
In general, the law does not provide an explicit time period to “protect” a worker from termination or another negative consequence after taking one of the protected actions noted above. The statute of limitations is the only deadline. Instead, the focus of the law is on protecting employees from retaliation by employers because of legally-protected action taken by employees. The protected action is often closely preceding the negative consequence, but it could be months or even a year or two preceding it. The question is whether we can prove that the protected action caused the negative consequence. The more distance between the two, the harder this proof becomes.
Stated differently, a worker can still be fired or demoted after taking one of the legally-protected actions noted above. In the case of a termination or demotion, it ultimately would be up to a jury to determine whether the termination or demotion was the result of taking the protected action, or if there was some other cause. In such a circumstance, the employer would normally have a reason to engage in the adverse conduct; a jury would then assess whether the reason provided by the employer was a “valid” reason, or simply a “pretextual” reason (or not the main reason) that the action was taken.
How We Help
As Boston retaliation lawyers serving clients throughout Massachusetts, we see through the pre-text reasons often used by employers to justify illegal retaliation against workers. We seek to hold employers liable to the fullest extent of the law, and to send a message that illegal retaliation will not be tolerated.
If you have been subjected to illegal retaliation, please call us for a free consultation to learn how we can help.