Sometimes, a company fights back after one of its employees files a claim against it. The claim can be for discrimination the employee experienced, workers’ compensation for an injury he or she suffered while at work, or a whistleblower claim describing the illegal an unethical conduct he or she observed at the company. Retaliating against an employee in any way for daring to commit one of these acts is illegal.
Along with increased surveillance of the employee, harassment, negative performance reviews and poor references, retaliation can manifest as termination of the employee. This is considered to be a form of wrongful termination. Under 49.60 RCW, Washington’s set of labor laws, it is illegal to fire an employee for any reason other than his or her misconduct or poor job performance.
Retaliation and Protected Activities
The term “protected activities” refers to actions taken by an individual to protect his or her job or draw attention to the injustice he or she has suffered that are legally protected against retaliation. The following are examples of protected activities:
- Picketing outside the company;
- Discussing one’s wrongful termination with others, such as former colleagues and friends;
- Threatening to file a wrongful discrimination lawsuit against the company; and
- Standing up for a colleague who has been wrongfully terminated and supporting him or her.
All of these actions, when carried out in a manner that does not threaten any of the company’s employees or interfere with its ability to do business, are considered to be protected activities. That means that it is illegal for a company to take action against an employee or group of employees who have engaged in this behavior following an actual or perceived injustice. Certain activities are not considered to be protected, and companies have the right to retaliate against employees who commit these behaviors. Some examples of non-protected activities are as follows:
- Threatening physical violence or professional ruin to a former colleague or supervisor;
- Spreading malicious rumors about a company that have no basis in fact; and
- Attempting to interfere with the company’s ability to continue its day-to-day operations.
Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
If you’ve lost your job as retaliation for any type of lawful claim you’ve made against your company, you might have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. The statute of limitations for this type of case is three years in Washington. That means that you have three years following your termination to contact an attorney and file your case with either the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employment Attorneys Can Help
Don’t wait to file your claim. If you’re ready to take legal action following your wrongful termination, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to discuss your case with one of our firm’s experienced employment attorneys. Our team understands Washington and federal employment laws and is here to advocate for you by helping you through this difficult process. Don’t allow your career to become sidetracked by an unjust termination – call our firm and let us help you seek justice today.