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Proving retaliatory firing may mean getting creative

Many employees suspect that a former employer terminated them unfairly, but not all believe that they have sufficient grounds to pursue legal action against the employer for wrongful termination or retaliation. In order to prove that a particular firing was retaliatory, a former employee must first meet three standards.

First, the employee must have evidence to prove that he or she was taking part in protected activities, such as reporting discrimination or cooperating with an investigation into inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Once the individual demonstrates that he or she was participating in some protected activity, he or she must demonstrate that the employer punished him or her for this behavior. While this punishment may include the firing, it does not always. Instead, the punishment may be demotion, loss of preference in work assignments or docked pay.

Finally, an employee must demonstrate that the punishment received was in fact related to participating in the protected activity. In many cases, this last point is most difficult. Even in instances where the other two standards are easily met, the third may prove a sticking point for many employees. Often, the links between the first two standards and the third are more or less circumstantial, meaning that the plaintiff must dig deep and get creative to demonstrate the nature of the retaliation.

If you believe that you suffered unfair termination or some other form of retaliation, don't hesitate to consult an experienced attorney to understand the strengths of your claims. You may have more ways to legitimize your claim than you realize. Professional legal counsel keeps you advised of your rights while protecting your priorities as you pursue justice in the workplace.

Source: Findlaw, "Retaliation and Wrongful Termination," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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