Can You Sue Your Employer for Retaliation?
If you were recently treated differently or fired after having reported harassment by a coworker, pursuant to your employer's Anti-Discrimination policies, then you may have a case for Retaliation.
First and foremost, you cannot sue your former employer if you have not first filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and/or the Missouri Human Rights Commission. This generally must be done within 180 days of the date of the discriminatory action under most state laws, including Missouri's, and 300 days under Federal law if there is a corresponding law in Missouri.
Second, after your Charge of Discrimination is on file for a minimum of 180 days you can request a "Right to Sue Letter." Once this request is processed and mailed, you will only have 90 days in which to file a lawsuit against your former employer.
You cannot file a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit against your employer without a "Right to Sue Letter".
Whether or not you can sue your former employer depends on a number of factors, including whether you are bringing this lawsuit in Federal Court or a State Court in Missouri. But, the basis for a Retaliation claim against an employer will only be successful in Federal Court, for example, if you can satisfy the following elements: 1) That you were engaged in a protected activity; 2) that your employer treated you in an adverse way with respect to your employment; and 3) that you can show a link or causal connection between your protected activity and the adverse action.
Under Missouri law,
"To prove a violation of the MHRA, a plaintiff alleging unlawful retaliation must prove (1) that he engaged in protected activity, and (2) that 'as a direct result, he ... suffer[ed] ... damages due to an act of reprisal.'" Pittman v. Ripley County Memorial Hospital quoting Keeney v. Hereford Concrete Prods.
If, for example, you were the victim of sexual or racial harassment (discrimination) by a coworker and you reported this to your supervisor or Human Resources Department (i.e., you followed your Employer's Anti-Discrimination Policies), then you were engaged in a protected activity. If you can prove that you were denied vacation, were demoted, or ultimately fired as a result of your earlier complaint to Human Resources, then you would have a viable case to bring in Court so long as you haven't missed any deadlines.
As with any case of employment discrimination, it is vital that you seek counsel from an attorney who understands the Employment Discrimination laws. Only by having an experienced attorney evaluate the particular facts of your case will you know for sure whether you have a case. Contact Anthony Bretz today for a free consultation.