As a federal employee, you expect that your employer will honor your basic rights and comply with all discrimination laws. Unfortunately, plenty of people who work for the government or for companies contracted by the government still experience discrimination and illegal retaliation when they report that discrimination.
Retaliation violates your basic rights as an employee, as employers should not punish people for speaking up about their own rights or illegal activity they notice in the workplace. When an employer decides to punish someone for standing up for themselves or reporting wrongdoing, their retaliatory actions could lead to lawsuits brought by the affected worker.
How can you show that what you experienced was retaliation?
Prove that it meets the federal standard of retaliation
If a government agency or courtroom has to evaluate certain employee behavior to determine if it constitutes retaliation, they use a basic standard. A legal standard makes it easier for the enforcement of certain rules of laws to remain consistent even in different jurisdictions and states.
The standard for whether certain actions constitute retaliation is simple. Would the actions taken by management have a chilling effect on other employees who might need to report wrongdoing or discrimination?
Simply put, would the average worker look at the complaint or report made by the affected worker and the response by the employer and determine that if they spoke up, they would likely face the same consequences? If so, then the situation likely constitutes retaliation.
Show that your experience was outside the ordinary
Proving retaliation can require documentation of what you experienced, such as termination or a transfer to a different department or shift. Showing what happened and why can help your claim.
The explanation offered by your employer could be a poor performance review or a violation of the rules. Showing that your performance remained consistent and only the review of it changed could show that your employer’s attitude reflected not your performance but rather their displeasure.
On the other hand, showing that they enforce a rule in your case that they consistently ignored for other workers could show inconsistency that indicates retaliation as well. Looking carefully at the circumstances leading up to the actions you think constitute retaliation can help you determine if you have a chance to hold your employer responsible for discrimination and retaliation on the job