Sometimes, the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the grease. Other times, it's the one that gets fired. When it comes to employees who complain about certain conditions at their workplaces, they're a bit like squeaky wheels. Good employers will listen to them, evaluate the situation and do what's necessary to fix it. Bad employers will simply ignore the employee and end the employment relationship. In many cases, this kind of termination is unlawful.
When an employee gets fired after complaining about work conditions, it's often viewed as "retaliation" by the courts. Retaliation could be any form of punishment, negative work consequences, loss of job, loss of opportunity, demotion or reduction in pay as a response to the employee doing a protected practice. These protected practices include complaining about unlawful behavior, reporting sexual harassment, taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, filing a complaint about safety violations, requesting that racial discrimination stop and more.
If you were suddenly fired, you might want to consider if your termination happened after you:
- Complained about workplace safety violations
- Reported a legal violation you saw at work
- Reported instances of racial discrimination or sexual harassment
- Experienced a negative reaction from your employer after making a complaint
- Participated in an official investigation into your company
- Were told not to exercise any one of many employment rights
These are just some of the many ways that employees could lose their jobs as a result of retaliation. If you believe that you were victimized by employment retaliation and you were the squeaky wheel that got fired, you may want to look deeper into your legal rights and options.