Under U.S. employment laws, employers can terminate at-will employees for insubordination, poor work performance, absenteeism, and/or any other legal reason. In fact, employers generally do not have to provide a reason for terminating an employee. However, there are some reasons for termination that are considered illegal. if an employer retaliates against an employee for engaging in a protected activity by discharging them, the employer may be found liable for wrongful termination. A retaliatory discharge may occur if the employee is terminated after:
- Filing a complaint alleging discrimination or harassment
- Acting as a whistleblower in exposing illegal workplace activity
- Reporting sexual harassment
- Requesting leave under the FMLA
- Participating in an EEOC investigation
- Employer asked the employee to engage in illegal or discriminatory behavior and the employee refused.
Proving retaliatory discharge
If an employer retaliates against you by terminating your employment, you will need to establish that your employer was taking adverse action against you due to your involvement in a protected activity or refusal to engage in illegal or discriminatory activity. Employees will benefit from providing the court with:
- Evidence showing that the employee was performing well and/or highly valued by their employer (e.g., positive performance reviews or feedback, promotions, pay raises)
- Evidence of the employee engaging in a legally protected activity
- Evidence indicating a link between the employee activity and the termination (especially if the termination occurred soon after the employee’s activity)
- Evidence of damages suffered by the employee (e.g., lost wages)
Proving that your termination was unlawful will be challenging, even with strong evidence. An employment law attorney in Portland can help prove your claim and get you the compensation you deserve.