Retaliation can include any materially adverse job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment and it resulted from you engaging in a protected activity such as reporting an illegal behavior (e.g., discrimination, fraud, or safety violations), for participating in any investigation into potentially illegal behavior, filing a worker's compensation claim or for taking protected medical leave.
If you can show that you were engaged in protected activity and that it resulted in an adverse job action, you must then prove that the two events are related. This is known as causation. Proving causation can occur with an admission from your employer, but this rarely happens, if ever. Absent an admission, you can prove causation by submitting evidence of the suspicious timing of your complaint and the ensuing retaliation. For example, you are fired two days after complaining about sexual harassment of another employee by your supervisor. Another way to prove causation is to show that there is a lack of any other credible explanation for your termination, demotion, etc. For example, if you have years of excellent performance reviews and no disciplinary actions, but you receive a negative review shortly after engaging in a protected activity, such as reporting an illegal behavior, your employer's actions certainly look suspicious. Proving causation in a retaliation case can be difficult, it is best to run the facts of your potential case by an experienced employment lawyer.
The lawyers at Holman & Stefanowicz, LLC have prepared and handled charges on behalf of employees before the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, The Illinois Department of Human Rights, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The Illinois Department of Labor, The United States Department of Labor, The United States Department of Justice and have successfully litigated many employment cases in State and Federal court.