No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Understanding Employment Retaliation in Michigan

There are many laws and regulations in place governing how employers need to treat their employees, and how they need to act, in general. In most cases, however, nobody will ever know if an employer is violating these rules unless an employee files a complaint. The problem with this is that many employees won’t file a complaint because they fear that they will lose their job or suffer some other type of negative consequence.

For example, if a pregnant woman at a Michigan employer is denied consideration for a promotion, it is violating several state and federal laws. If the woman files a complaint against her employer, and the employer decides to terminate her employment, that would be a case of employment retaliation. There are, of course, many other examples of this type of thing that can take place.

What Actions are Protected?
Knowing what type of actions are protected is an important first step in determining whether legal action is possible. The following are some of the most common examples:

Confronting Management About Discrimination – You can’t be penalized for reporting issues related to discrimination to management.
Filing a Formal Complaint – If you choose to file a formal complaint with HR or another proper department, you can’t be penalized for the actual act of filing the complaint.
Contacting Authorities About Illegal Activity – If you contact the proper authorities concerning illegal activity taking place in the company, you can’t be punished.
Many Others – There are quite a few other actions that are protected. If you feel you are being unjustly retaliated against by your employer, your best course of action is talking to an attorney.

Examples of Adverse Action
In order to be considered retaliation, the employer must take some type of action against the employee that is considered “adverse.” This includes actions such as firing the employee, threatening to fire them, refusing to hire or promote the employee, increased surveillance of the employee, and more. The employer can, however, conduct normal performance reviews and criticisms as they would for any other employee.

Talk to an Attorney
For many employees, it can be hard to tell if they are experiencing retaliation or not. The best course of action is to speak with an employment attorney with experience in this area. Contact us to go over your specific situation and get advice on how to best move forward. We’ve helped many employees in Michigan and would be honored to fight for your rights as well.

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Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C.

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