Fear of Retaliation in the Workplace? You Have Options

Worried businesswoman receiving a notification from a colleague in her workplace at office

As an employee, you have certain rights and protections under both state and federal law. If you suspect that your employer is engaging in illegal or unethical activity, you may be protected from retaliation for reporting your concerns to your employer, a state or federal agency, or to the authorities. Given the current economic situation in our country, it is understandable that employees are in fear of retaliation in the workplace and losing their job for reporting a violation. If you or someone you know has been retaliated against at work, talk to the Maura Greene Law Group in Boston today to schedule a consultation of your case.

What is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee for, among other things, making complaints against harassment, sexual harassment, hostile work environment or discrimination at work, or for taking part in workplace investigations. An employer is not allowed to retaliate against an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. Retaliation does not just refer to termination but encompasses a wide range of negative job actions. Some of the most common examples of workplace retaliation include the following:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Denial of raises
  • Denial of transfer
  • Involuntary placement on leave
  • Reducing hours, wages or benefits
  • Refusing to train
  • Preventing mentoring opportunities
  • Giving undesirable shifts or assignments
  • Threatening to punish the employee
  • Hostile or abusive workplace treatment
  • Reporting the employee or their family to immigration authorities, and more.

Massachusetts state law and federal law protect employees from retaliation by their employer, and it is important to know that you have legal options if you believe that your employer is retaliating against you for your actions.

Legal Protections Against Retaliation in the Workplace

Federal Title VII laws and the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, M.G.L. c. 151B, protect employees who challenge, oppose, or report conduct they believe to be unlawful harassment or discrimination in the workplace, including acts of sexual harassment and discrimination based on an employee’s protected class. In addition, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also protects employees who report unlawful harassment or discrimination by their employer based on an employee’s disability. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee who takes medical leave or from interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s right to that leave.

Additionally, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Massachusetts Wage Act protect employees from retaliation who report suspected unlawful wage and overtime practices.

In Fear of Retaliation in the Workplace? Contact Our Office Today

We see patterns in our practice, like the ones described above.  However, every case has its own unique facts.  Before you take any action, you should contact an employment lawyer and get advice on your own situation.  We can’t provide legal advice here and this isn’t intended as legal advice.   Keep in mind that it is best, if possible, to establish a relationship with an attorney before a workplace issue turns into a full-blown crisis.  Employees who have received a verbal or written warning or performance improvement plan should contact counsel now.  Ditto for employees who are seeing their doctor for workplace-related stress or anxiety.

Massachusetts employees are protected against retaliation under state and federal laws. If you are in fear of retaliation in Massachusetts, call the office or contact us today in Boston at the Maura Greene Law Group to schedule an evaluation of your case.

The Not So Fine Print:

We see patterns in our practice, like the ones described above.  However, every case has its own unique facts.  Before you take any action, you should contact an employment lawyer and get advice on your own situation.  We can’t provide legal advice here and this isn’t intended as legal advice.   Keep in mind that it is best, if possible, to establish a relationship with an attorney before a workplace issue turns into a full-blown crisis.  Employees who have received a verbal or written warning or performance improvement plan, should contact counsel now.  Ditto for employees who are seeing their doctor for workplace related stress or anxiety.