Can my employer fire me if I file a discrimination claim?
No, employers cannot fire an employee who files an employment discrimination claim. If an employer does so, they are engaging in illegal retaliation.
Employees may fear that if they file a claim, their employer will fire them, transfer them to another position or otherwise make their work life more difficult. However, an employee’s decision to exercise their rights by filing a claim against an employer cannot be used by the employer in any way to negatively impact an employee’s job. This includes terminating the employee; however, it also includes other forms of adverse employment action, including:
- Transferring the employee to a less desirable position;
- Increasing the level of supervision over the employee;
- Reducing an employee’s benefits or pay; or
- Denying an employee’s reasonable requests that should have been granted.
To prove a retaliation claim, an employee must be able to show:
- They reported discrimination to the employer, its human resources department, or any supervisor or person in authority; participated in an investigation; or filed a complaint with the government agency or court.
- The employer took some adverse employment action against the employee; and
- The employer took the adverse action because the employee reported discrimination. For example, the employer may fire you for no good cause. If an employee who protested discrimination is supposedly fired for poor performance, but never received any write-ups or has a good performance history overall, then a court may decide that that the termination was retaliatory. Or if the employee is “laid off” but their job was re-posed, then the employer’s excuse looks like a pretext for firing an employee who complained of discrimination.