As Ohio employment retaliation lawyers, We often receive calls when an employee has been retaliated against for opposing or reporting their employer’s unlawful discrimination. We’ll spend this blog detailing how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (which prohibits employment discrimination based upon race, color, gender [pregnancy], religion, or national origin) also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees in certain instances. Remember … Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Title VII prohibits workplace retaliation against employees who file charges, testify, assist, or participate in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under Title VII – this is known as the “Participation Clause.” Title VII also prohibits an employer from retaliating against employees who oppose any practice which was made unlawful under Title VII – this is known as the “Opposition Clause.” In addition, Title VII protection from retaliation extends to those persons not directly involved in the protected activity who are so closely related to or associated with the employees who are directly involved if it’s clear the protected activity motivated the employer to retaliate.
When an employee seeks to prove their case of workplace retaliation under Title VII’s Participation Clause they must generally establish that: (1) they engaged in a protected activity, (2) they subsequently suffered an adverse employment action, and (3) the totality of the circumstances permit an inference of a retaliatory motive. As in employment discrimination cases, the employer then has the burden of showing it had a legitimate and non-retaliatory reason for the adverse employment action. Assuming the employer meets its burden (which it will because no employer is going to admit to retaliating), the employee must then prove that the employer’s stated reason was merely pretext for its unlawfully motivated decision.
As for the Opposition Clause, the employee does not have to prove that the opposed practice was actually unlawful in order for the employee to be protected from retaliation under Title VII. In other words, an employee doesn’t have to prove they have actually suffered unlawful discrimination by their employer in order for the employee to be protected from retaliation. Instead, the employee must only reasonably believe they were opposing unlawful action by their employers.
In addition to protection from retaliation under Title VII, Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112 also protects employees of employers (that have 4 or more employees) from retaliation. In particular, R.C. 4112.02(I) makes it unlawful for any person to discriminate against another person merely because they have opposed a discriminatory practice or because they made a charge or participated in a proceeding or investigation under R.C. 4112.
If you believe your employer has retaliated against you for opposing discrimination, it is important to contact our Ohio employment retaliation lawyers to discuss the circumstances of your employment. In addition, it is advisable to make all communications opposing an employer’s discriminatory practices in writing so as not to permit any argument whether you have actually engaged in a protected activity. Should you have any questions contact our Ohio employment retaliation lawyers to discuss the circumstances of your employment.