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Retaliation

Federal laws such as Title VII, the FLSA, and the ADA that prohibit workplace discrimination also protect employees against retaliation for reporting illegal actions under these laws. For example, if someone at your company illegally discriminates against you because of your race or gender and you report this to your manager or human resources, it is against the law for the company to retaliate against you for making that report. 

Federal law also prohibits a company from retaliating against when you report discrimination or harassment on behalf of a coworker who is targeted with illegal discrimination or harassment. For example, if a manager illegally sexually or racially harasses your coworker and you report to to a manager or human resources, it is against the law for the company to retaliate against you for that report. 

If you take legal action because you have been discriminated against or harassed in violation of federal law, if you file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or if you participate in an investigation of discrimination or harassment, federal law likewise prohibits your employer from retaliating against you. 

You do not have to have conclusive proof of the discrimination or harassment in order to be protected against retaliation. And depending on the situation, if your employer illegally retaliates against you, the law may allow you to recover damages and attorney’s fees. 

If you believe your employer is subjecting you or your coworkers to unlawful discrimination or retaliation, we encourage you to consult with an employee rights attorney as soon as possible. Not all complaints to managers or HR officials are protected from retaliation. An employee rights lawyer can provide you valuable guidance on handling your discrimination or harassment concerns to help protect you against retaliation.


Every federal statute that prohibits discrimination in the workplace has an anti-retaliation provision. As such, it is unlawful for an employee to be retaliated against for opposing perceived discrimination or participating in an EEOC investigation regarding such discrimination. In other words, if you believe you were discriminated against and you complained to your supervisor about such discrimination and then the employer took an adverse employment action against you because of that report, that retaliatory act is unlawful. The same is true for co-workers who report discrimination or otherwise provide information regarding discrimination on behalf of a fellow employee. If you successfully demonstrate that your employer unlawfully retaliated against you, you are entitled to lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages (that may be capped depending on the number of employees), and attorneys’ fees.


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