Can Retaliation Happen 13 Years Later?
In addition to making it unlawful to discriminate against employees based on factors such as sex, race, religion, age, or disability, both federal law and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibit retaliation against any employee who complains about discriminatory actions. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes any kind of adverse employment action against someone, which includes firing, demoting, or transferring them to less desirable work assignments.
Proving a retaliation claim is not always easy, as you must sufficiently prove that the adverse employment action directly occurred because of the discrimination complaint. Often, an employer will give another false reason for the adverse employment action to try to cover their tracks and an employee must generally prove that reason was pretextual. Proving the causal connection between a discrimination complaint and an adverse employment action can become even more complex if some time has passed between the two. However, in some cases, even a significant amount of time cannot mask unlawful retaliation.
Retaliating After 13 Years
In 1999, one employee gave information in a claim for sexual harassment against a supervising executive vice president in the company and the supervisor was aware of the testimony given and demonstrated anger about it. The supervisor chose to retire early in 2000 in light of the lawsuit and tension with the company.
Thirteen years later, the employee was still working at the company with impressive production numbers and a new company president assured the employee that his position was safe. However, the new president rehired the former executive to again supervise the employee. In the following days and weeks, the following events allegedly occurred:
- The supervisor verbally threatened the employee;
- The supervisor took the employee’s assistant to use as his own;
- The supervisor showed a video at a meeting portraying the torso of the employee without a head;
- The employee’s job was eliminated and he received a substantial demotion to a job he previously held 27 years prior;
- When the employee complained about these actions to the president of the company, he was offered a severance package to resign and he did so.
Even though the above actions took place 13 years after the initial sexual harassment case, the court found that there was enough evidence that the supervisor’s actions were motivated by unlawful retaliation to allow the case to proceed to trial.
This case demonstrates that retaliation can occur even more than a decade later and, no matter when you experience unlawful retaliation, you have the right to take legal action.
Call a Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyer For Assistance
Retaliation for reporting unlawful discrimination or harassment is unlawful no matter when it occurs. The longer the period of time that passes, the more challenging it may be to prove a connection, which is why you need an attorney who has extensive experience handling retaliation claims. If you believe you have suffered unlawful retaliation or discrimination and you would like more information regarding your rights, please call the law office of employment law attorney Robert S. Norell in Plantation, Florida at 800-796-0849 for help today.