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Retaliation in the Workplace

Both federal and Connecticut state law forbid an employer to retaliate against an employee in response to that employee filing a report or claim against the employer. For example, if an employee files a sexual harassment claim against his or her employer, the employer may not respond by firing or demoting that employee. Laws are in place to protect an employee’s position and career, should he or she need to file a claim that might greatly upset an employer.

Employers have been known to punish an employee for filing a sexual harassment claim, which may have injured that employer’s reputation or pride. Employers might also try to prevent the employee from moving forward with a claim by firing that individual beforehand. In another example, an employer might demote or diminish wages for an employee who returns from disability or family leave. All of these actions count as retaliation, and are forbidden by law.

Employers have been known to wrongfully retaliate against employees for the following:

  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim after an injury
  • Complaining about or filing a claim regarding discrimination (whether related to age, race, gender, religion, etc.)
  • Making a disability claim
  • Returning from disability leave
  • Returning from family leave (FMLA)
  • Making a sexual harassment claim
  • Having testified against the employer in a legal proceeding
  • Reporting the employer for illegal conduct

Legal Provisions and the False Claims Act

In 1986, Congress added anti-retaliation protections to the False Claims Act. These provisions, which did not exist previously, are contained in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3730(h):

"Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because of lawful acts done by the employee on behalf of his employer or others in furtherance of an action under this section, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under this section, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole."

This law defines retaliation as firing, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or discriminating against the employee. If the wronged employee brings a lawsuit in response to this retaliation and wins the case, he or she is entitled to full recovery for his or her losses. In Connecticut, victims of retaliation have two years from the date of retaliation to bring the lawsuit.

Sabatini & Associates has successfully handled legal claims for employees in the State of Connecticut. If you have a workplace retaliation claim, please contact our attorneys today for a consultation.

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