Or, “How can a jury find your bully boss innocent of bias, but
still return a big fat verdict in your favor?”
Sometimes it feels like the boss has all the power; your
employer and H.R. hold all the cards.
You just have to come into work and try to avoid the powerful people,
and then get back out of there the second the work day is over. But you know what? An employee suffering through a hostile work
environment can become more powerful than you imagine by learning their rights. There are many legal rights and lawyers’ strategies
that greatly benefit employees, but few employees know about them. Today I’m going to reveal t you one of the
most powerful, explain why employers’ fear it, and tell you exactly how to use
it. It’s the legal claim called
retaliation. Companies, H.R.
professionals, and defense attorneys all dread retaliation claims.
Employers and their H.R. henchmen hate retaliation
claims. They hate retaliation claims because there is a proven pattern of companies going to court against
employees, prevailing against the employees’ charges of illegal discrimination and
harassment, BUT, the jury finds that the supervisor did commit
retaliation – in the very same lawsuit.
That’s what drives employers crazy.
Companies will spend a ton of time and literally $100,000+ paying attorneys to
defend an employment lawsuit alleging, for example, age discrimination. After all the effort, hours, and dollars, the
company proves that it discriminate against the employee on the basis of age. Yet, the company leaves the courthouse a loser, and it’s going to have to write a big fat check to the former employee (who was
not discriminated against). Why? Because the former employee claimed both
discrimination, and retaliation. And
since the employee won the retaliation claim, it really doesn’t matter to the
employee one iota that he or she lost the discrimination claim. The employee still won and the employee is still getting paid. How is this possible to lose and win in the
same suit?You can allege more than one “claim” (or legal theory of how
your employer wronged you) in each lawsuit.
An easy example is an elderly woman who sues her former employer for
terminating her for her age and for her gender.
Her lawsuit contains two claims, and she only has to prove one of the
two in order to prevail in court and force her ex employer to pay her
money. In a similar way you can bring a hostile work environment
claim, and then add a retaliation claim because your boss treats you worse
after you file the retaliation claim.
The retaliation claim is a bit like a caboose full of dynamite that is
pulled around by a run-away train called Hostile-Workplace. The caboose always comes after the engine,
but if they both crash the caboose is more likely to explode. (Maybe I took that analogy too far). The point, though, is that even though you can’t
have retaliation without first having the hostile-workplace, the retaliation is
easier to prove, more feared by your ex-employer, and more likely to get you
paid.Part of the reason you are more likely to win a retaliation
claim, and why the company fears it so much, is because you don’t first have to
prove a hostile work environment occurred in order to win on your retaliation claim. Courts have specifically said that an
employee can prevail on a retaliation claim by establishing that the employer
retaliated against the employee for opposing allegedly discriminatory practices
even if the practices were not, in fact, discriminatory. Sias v.
City Demonstration Agency, 588 F2d 692, 692 (9th Cir 1978).All that is required to bring a retaliation claim is this:You complain of a hostile work environment (based on a protected class) that you have a good faith belief is occurring;Your boss treats you worse after you make your complaint than he/she did before you made your complaint;You complain that you are being retaliated against for lodging your initial complaintThat’s it, there’s nothing else to it. The only caveat is to emphasize that the hostile work environment in #1 MUST be based on a protected class. (If you don’t understand that, see my Hub “What is a Hostile Work Environment”)
Here’s why retaliation claims occur so often and are so hard
for employers to stop: imagine that you were at work and another employee
accused you of something truly horrible like race discrimination. You’re shocked! Anyone who knows you at all will say that you
would never hold a person’s race against them.
You are no bigot! And when you
find out what the co-worker’s accusation is, it’s not like she misunderstood
you or twisted your words – it’s like she’s putting words in your mouth that
you never said. So, after you learn that
this co-worker is falsely accusing you of racial bigotry, do you think you could
treat her exactly the same way you did before she (falsely) accused you? Could you resist confronting her about
it? Could you be friendly and talk to
her just as frequently as you did before?
Could you include her in meetings and group lunches just like you did
before? Could you resist making even the
smallest negative comment about her to your other co-workers? In all honesty, I would have a very tough
time doing that. Your supervisor is no
different. Even if everyone knows that
your boss is a mean-spirited jerk, he doesn’t
believe that he is a mean-spirited jerk.
He believes in his heart of hearts that he is innocent. As a consequence, he can’t resist the very
human urge to defend himself, to attack his accuser, and “fight for” his
career. He will always retaliate. And you should always be ready for it; for you, his retaliation is like ripe fruit from a tree falling directly into your basket.Understanding the basics of what is meant by “personal injury” and the issues to be addressed in choosing a personal injury attorney are addressed here.We’ve all heard the television commercials, “If you’ve been injured in an automobile wreck…” or “If you’ve been injured as the result of …” followed by a 1-800 number you’re enticed to call to “preserve your rights” and “get the compensation you’re entitled to.” But just who are these ads directed to?What is a personal injury?Generally, personal injury refers to bodily harm. Someone rear-ends your vehicle and a few days later, you realize it hurts to move your neck. You use a product that causes you to get sick. Someone throws a bottle across a dark, smoky bar and it breaks over your head. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to the ways a person can physically be injured.But personal injury means more than physical harm. When lawyers refer to the personal injury case, it’s a wide umbrella covering much more than bodily damage.For example, a person who witnesses a horrific scene, such as a devastating car wreck involving fatalities and lots of blood and gore, may be “injured” even though he or she wasn’t personally involved in the wreck. He may experience nightmares and develop a phobia for driving or riding in a vehicle. In such instances, the person’s “injury” is emotional; it is referred to as post traumatic stress disorder.This is just one example of a personal injury that does not involve bodily damage.Personal Injury cases are generally classified into one of several categories, depending on their nature. The following are the most typical classifications:Vehicular Accidents:This category includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses — any type of a vehicle. Usually, the person who is injured is entitled to compensation for his injuries. In nearly every case, the amount of compensation will be greater when the injured person hires an attorney, even with the fee the attorney earns.Pharmaceutical Injury:As the name suggests, these cases involve an injury from taking a pharmaceutical. Usually, the injured party will become a member of a class action against the manufacturer of the pharmaceutical alleged to have caused the damage. This is a big-business category, evidenced by the number of advertisements one sees from lawyers regarding the newest, latest drug known to cause harm.Again, as with a vehicular accident, an injured party will recover a larger dollar amount in most every instance when she hires an attorney. In fact, with a class action suit, it’s nearly impossible to go it alone.Product Liability:Technically, a pharmaceutical case is also a product liability case. Attorneys, however, tend to separate the two for practical reasons. The product liability case, otherwise, involves injury caused by any product. If you use a gas pump at a gas station, for example, and it somehow causes you injury — that is a product liability case. If you buy a stroller for your child and it collapses, causing injury — that, too, is a product liability case.Medical Negligence:Also known as medical malpractice, this category of cases involves injury to someoI Wanna Be a Lawyer
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