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Understanding Retaliation Laws in Construction Part 2

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If an employee experiences a materially adverse action from an employer after exerting their rights and making a formal or informal complaint, this is considered retaliation. Retaliation occurs far too often and employers that violate this law could find themselves in hot water. Retaliation can lead to an employee filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or reporting other employment infractions that result in a Department of Labor hearing.

Construction employers need to understand retaliation laws to ensure they are compliant. In the first part of this article, a Tampa construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law explained protected activities and certain circumstances in which employees have a legal right to make a complaint. In this section, we will shift our focus to ways that employers breach retaliation laws.

Acts of Retaliation

An act of retaliation can take many forms. After an employee engages in a protected activity, employers may be acting in retaliation if they do one of the following:

  • Poor Performance Review: If an employee criticizes an employee for making a complaint or the complaint results in the employer giving the employee a poor performance review, this is considered retaliation.    
  • Demote or Transfer: Reduced hours or pay, a demotion in job title, undesirable or dramatic schedule changes, and termination are all examples of adverse employment actions.   
  • Abuse or Threaten: Verbal or physically abusive behavior is never acceptable conduct in the workplace. If an employer threatens their employee, this is unlawful.  
  • Creating Other Problems: Some employers may communicate to their workforce that the employee can’t be trusted or spread rumors about the employee. In other cases, an employer could release a family member of the employee from their contract.   

Employees Aren’t Always Protected

It’s important to note that although it’s unlawful to retaliate against an employee that asserted their rights to make a complaint, they are not “shielded from the consequences of poor performance or misconduct.” Employees that violate company policy, refuse to perform job tasks, or do anything else that is considered poor performance of their work responsibilities are subject to the same discipline as all employees. If an employee filed or made a complaint and then refused to perform their work tasks, consult an attorney before taking action.   

In the third and fourth parts of this series, our Tampa construction lawyers will discuss various defenses against retaliation claims and how to combat retaliation from occurring at your workplace.

If you would like to speak with a Tampa construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.