Employee Rights In Arizona: Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation is a serious problem. It can result in legal conflicts, problems with productivity, and a hostile work environment. As in many other states, Arizona has rules that guard against workplace retaliation.

Definition of Workplace Retaliation

This happens when an employer sanctions an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. This could be letting someone go, being demoted, switching jobs, receiving a wage reduction, or taking any other action that negatively affects the terms and circumstances of employment.

Protected Activities

In Arizona, some activities that are protected from retaliation include:

  • Making a complaint about harassment or discrimination at work
  • Taking part in a workplace harassment or discrimination investigation or lawsuit
  • Reporting violations or harmful conduct
  • Filing a claim for workers’ compensation
  • Using Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave or other entitled leave
  • Reporting employment law breaches

Proving Retaliation in the Workplace

An employee needs to prove that retaliation happened:

  • They must state that they engaged in a protected activity.
  • They must present proof that they suffered a negative employment action. This can be a demotion, termination, etc.
  • There is a link between the protected activity and the retaliation.

Remedies for Workplace Retaliation

The employee may be eligible for the following remedies:

  • Return to their prior position at work
  • The compensation and benefits that a former employer owes to an employee. This may be through a wrongful termination or a change in salary or status. (Back pay)
  • Monetary award for damages for lost compensation (Front pay)
  • Legal expenses (Attorney’s fees)
  • Compensation for past and future emotional distress
  • Exemplary damages may be awarded to an employee. The employer must have intentionally violated the rights of an employee.

State and Federal Overlap

Here are the federal laws to protect Arizonans from workplace retaliation:

  •  The Civil Rights Act (Title VII)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

Depending on the specifics of the allegation, employees may opt to file a complaint at the state or federal levels. Filing a complaint to both levels of government can be an option.

Reporting & Filing a Claim

An Arizona worker may file a complaint on workplace retaliation with the state agency responsible for labor rights. Employees in Arizona may opt to make a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Keep in mind that the statute of limitations will vary depending on the kind of claim and the agency where it will be filed.

Practical Steps for Employees

  • Document any negative deeds, discussions, or decisions which appear retaliatory.
  • Consult with an employment lawyer to know your rights. Legal remedies will be discussed as well.
  • Know the statute of limitations based on the facts of the allegation.

Employers and employees must stay informed about current labor laws. It’s best to consult with labor lawyers to get the legal counsel most suitable to you.