employer retaliate

Can Employers Retaliate Against Me After I Am No Longer Employed By the Company?

Employer retaliation is a serious issue for employees brave enough to report discrimination, workplace safety issues, or illegal activity. They often do so at their own risk, knowing that they are likely to be the target of retaliation once the truth comes out. But what happens if an employee decides to leave a company before or after reporting illegal or unethical behavior? Is their Mobile employer still obligated to avoid retaliation?

Learn more about what the law says and the different ways employers may retaliate against former employees. If you’ve been unfairly targeted, let’s talk. Call Coumanis & York at 251-336-3121 to set up a consultation with our team.


What the EEOC Says

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which governs discrimination complaints, is very clear about what employers can and cannot do in response to a complaint. Even if you no longer work for the company, an employer cannot retaliate against you. The EEOC’s protections extend to all applicants, current employees, and former employees. OSHA, which oversees complaints made about unsafe workplace practices, also offers whistleblower protection.

Since the main forms of retaliation include loss of pay, termination, and demotion, you may wonder how an employer may retaliate against a former employee. Some of the most common ways are described below.


Giving a Bad Reference

This is a gray area in terms of retaliation. If you report an employer, either current or former, you can still use them as a reference when seeking other employment. If they give you a bad reference, it may or may not be considered retaliation. This is very dependent on the details of your case and your employment.

For example, if you performed well above expectations for the entirety of your time there and you have employee reviews and documentation stating as such, you’d expect that to reflect in any future references they gave you. But if they then told potential employers that you were unreliable, constantly late, and sloppy in your work, that would be a sign of retaliation—their words don’t match your actual work performance. On the other hand, if your work was spotty and your performance was below par, it would not necessarily be retaliation if they told the truth when contacted by a potential employer.


Interfering With Your Career

This type of retaliation varies widely between industries. Some industries are so large that no amount of trifling with your career could actually keep you from finding work. However, some industries are so small and tight-knit that they feel like a small town high school. In these smaller industries, it’s incredibly easy for one well-connected professional to blacklist someone they don’t like from the field. This is one way a former employer could retaliate. If they reach out to the big employers in your area and prevent you from being hired, that could be devastating to your career. This is a form of retaliation that can have a significant financial impact. It’s most effective when carried out by an employer with major pull in their industry.


Damaging Your Reputation

This is similar to interfering with your career, but may not extend to the level of barring you from employment at other companies. If they simply badmouth you to other potential employers and peers, they can cause quite a bit of damage to your staying within your industry. Rumors often take on a life of their own over time, and just a few carefully placed stories or comments can quickly spin out of control, throwing your character into question and making it very difficult for you to ever move through the ranks in your work. Uncovering this type of retaliation can be tricky, as you have to be able to trace rumors and stories back to their starting point.


Have You Been Targeted by a Current or Former Employer? Call Coumanis & York

A disgruntled employer may go to great lengths to harm Mobile employees who call out their illegal or unethical actions. When they do, it’s important to protect yourself and assert your rights with the help of an employment law attorney. Choose the team at Coumanis & York and hold your employer accountable. Call our Daphne office at 251-336-3121, call our Mobile office at 251-336-3491, or contact us online to get started.

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