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Workplace retaliation: an increasingly common problem in the U.S.

Workplace retaliation constitutes nearly 45 percent of all workplace discrimination claims, according to a recent report. This number represents a steep increase compared to 22 percent two decades ago. Experts say that vulnerable populations—immigrants and low-income workers—are especially susceptible to such treatment.

Workplace retaliation occurs when a worker engages in a so-called “protected activity” and is penalized by their employer as a result (e.g., is fired/demoted or receives threats/worse treatment than colleagues). For example, if you are injured on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, and your employer terminates your employment, this could be a form of retaliation if you can demonstrate that the claim was the cause of the termination.

Retaliation discrimination is illegal in the U.S. If you have been the victim of retaliatory treatment by your employer, you have recourse to defend your rights. You can submit a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and you can also file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division.

Once you file, your complaint will be investigated to determine whether it meets the legal requirements of employment discrimination. If it qualifies, you and your employer will be invited to participate in mediation—whereby both parties will have the opportunity to work out an agreement with the help of a neutral mediator. If either party refuses to participate in mediation, then your case will be further examined to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to pursue legal action.

All workers in the United States are protected from workplace retaliation—regardless of income level or immigration status. An experienced employment law attorney can help you understand your rights.

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