Although an employee may be fired for any reason, employees have rights when it comes to being disciplined for retaliatory reasons. Florida business owners should be aware of the laws surrounding discriminatory retaliation, or they may be subject to an employment lawsuit.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employer retaliation is the most common type of discrimination alleged in the federal sector. Federal law protects employees from being punished after they report or discuss an instance of workplace discrimination or harassment or are a witness in a discrimination or harassment case.
As FindLaw explains, employers commonly retaliate against employees by giving them negative performance evaluations, demoting or reassigning them to less desirable positions or terminating employment. Often, employers retaliate if they believe a discrimination or harassment claim is baseless, if a claim turns out to be false or if they believe an employee does not understand his or her rights and can be punished without consequence. However, employers may unwittingly retaliate despite having good intentions, such as reassigning someone who has a complaint so he or she does not work with the person the complaint is against, without realizing the claimant would not appreciate the change in assignment.
Discrimination and harassment claims are among the most complex employment issues business owners may have to deal with. These issues require careful, tactful handling and experienced counsel. Employers should take care when disciplining an employee so the action is not taken as unlawful retaliation. It may be advised to seek legal counsel before making an employment decision.