Can Changing Reasons For Termination be a Sign of Retaliation?
Under employment laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who participate in a number of protected activities. One such protected activity is complaining about or reporting potential unlawful discrimination in the workplace. If an employee claims he or she was disciplined, demoted, or terminated for complaining of discrimination, the employer must present a valid, unrelated reason for the adverse employment decision. Then, the employee has the burden to show that the reason given by the employer was merely pretextual and meant to hide the true retaliatory motives.
In a recent case, a Court of Appeals reviewed a company’s alleged reasons for terminating an employee. The court found that, since the reasons kept changing, it may be a sign that the termination was retaliatory. Though different Andalex, the company in question, executives asserted the above reasons were at different times, very few were included in the company’s response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Furthermore, an employee negated the claim that a Ms. Kwan’s skills became obsolete. While stating in a deposition that the business focus of the company changed prior to Kwan’s hiring date. Finally, evidence shows that Kwan kept regular business hours except for informing her supervisor she was leaving work 45 minutes early one day—the day before she was fired. Overall, the court found the company’s reasons for termination inconsistent and changing, therefore allowed the retaliation claim to proceed to trial.
You might be a victim of illegal retaliation without even knowing you are being retaliated against. In some instances, it is hard to find out if your employer is retaliating against you. Sometimes, they change towards you after you report their conduct only in a professional manner. The only change you can clearly tag retaliatory is any which has an adverse effect on your employment.