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When to Seek Advice from an Attorney for Retaliation

whistleblower defense

Being the victim of employment retaliation can be a stressful experience. Not only has the future of your career been turned upside down but such retaliation can also be accompanied with intense feelings of isolation and embarrassment. Retaliation can happen to anyone in any industry and at any level of seniority. It can happen at any time, whether the employee first experiences adverse retaliatory action immediately after disclosing concerns to human resources or whether it occurs after the employee files a complaint with OSHA.

It is critical to understand that employees are protected under federal law from adverse action from their employers as a result of engaging in certain protected activities such as filing a complaint for health and safety violations in the workplace. Employees have the right to notify authorities of an unsafe, unsanitary, or dangerous working condition and, more importantly, employees have the right to defend themselves when their employers violate those rights. If your career has been threatened or has been unjustly taken away from you, it is time to seek immediate justice. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in handling employer retaliation claims in the workplace can help you get the justice you deserve.

You should speak to an attorney when any of the following events occur, as some examples: you are unclear as to your rights or whether you have any rights after your termination; your filing deadline is fast approaching and you have yet to file a complaint; you are thinking about resigning from your job because your employer has made your job extremely difficult since you engaged in certain protected behavior; you have questions about your employer’s recent retaliatory treatment against you; you are being pressured by your employer to sign documents without carefully understanding them; or you are considering filing a lawsuit against your employer.

In other words, an attorney should be hired as soon as you feel that your employer is retaliating against you for engaging in certain protected behavior. Do not let too much time go by. The effects of such retaliation will get worse over time and could lead to financial injury, loss of business contacts, emotional and physical stress, and reputational damage. There are also time restrictions in place for various statutes that limit the number of days an employee has to file a complaint. The time frame for filing a complaint begins on the day that the adverse retaliatory action first occurs and is communicated to the employee. These time limits can be as short as 30 days, which underscores why an employee should never wait it out or hope their employer’s behavior will stop. Time is of the essence.

It is also important to take prompt action as soon as you notice employer retaliatory action because you may need to start gathering documentation about successive retaliatory actions. The burden in a whistleblower action is on the claimant—you—to show improper motive such as retaliation and that it was connected to you engaging in certain protected activities. If you fail to gather the needed evidence—such as documents and witness testimony—as it occurs, it can become very challenging to prove your claim.

Never proceed in an employment action for retaliation on your own. It will be difficult to know the intricacies of the law, the rules and procedures of your court, how to call witnesses, and how to win your case against your employer. Retaining an employment law attorney early on is advantageous because an attorney can help you determine the elements of your case, what evidence you need to gather to successfully prove your case, how you have been harmed under the law, and how to present your case to a judge or jury.

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