Understanding retaliation protections in Texas workplaces

Understanding their rights and options with regards to retaliation in the workplace may help Texas employees to protect themselves.

When workers in Texas and elsewhere have their rights violated by their employers, they may choose to make formal or informal complaints. Although law prohibits it, this may lead some employers to take negative actions against them as a sort of punishment for asserting their rights. These types of situations may cause unpleasant or hostile work environments, cost people promotions or other opportunities, or even result in the loss of their employment. Therefore, it is important for employees to understand their rights against retaliation to help protect themselves.

What is retaliation?

Adverse actions taken against employees who have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or who have participated in an EEOC investigation, may be considered retaliation. This includes actions such as transferring workers to less desirable or prestigious work or work sites, scrutinizing employees' performance or attendance more than others' without having proper cause, or terminating workers' employment without justification. These types of adverse employment actions may qualify as retaliation provided they were not directly performance related and others who did not assert there rights were not treated in the same manner.

Who is protected from retaliation?

With few exceptions, all workers are protected against workplace retaliation for asserting their employment rights. Those employed by agencies, organizations or employers that fall under the EEO laws cannot have negative actions taken against them on the basis of their having filed a complaint. This includes current and former seasonal, temporary, part-time and full-time employees; and workers' citizenship or labor authorization does not play a role in their protection. Therefore, employers cannot report or threaten to report employees' immigration status to the authorities as punishment for making a complaint.

What are the remedies for retaliation?

The EEOC may provide several remedies when retaliation occurs. In some cases, as punishment to employers who have violated employees' rights and as compensation to those wronged workers, the EEOC may order employers to pay compensatory or punitive damages. Further, they may also be required to provide other relief, such as reinstating people to their prior work positions or giving them back pay.

Seeking legal assistance

Asserting their rights in the workplace may be difficult enough for people in Texas and elsewhere. Going up against employers who have retaliated against them for doing so may be an even more daunting prospect. Thus, those whose employers have taken adverse actions following a complaint about labor law violations may benefit from working with a lawyer. An attorney may guide them through the process, as well as look out for their rights and interests.