Timing can help you prove employment actions are retaliation
The company that employs you could fire you for just about any reason. Alabama’s employment laws make it an at-will state, allowing both employer and employee to quickly sever the employment relationship without legal or financial repercussions.
However, companies may still choose to protect themselves with a formal discipline policy to avoid allegations of wrongful termination. Engaging in progressive discipline and written write-ups are common ways for employers to justify decisions like demotions and terminations.
Sometimes write-ups and bad performance reviews are actually retaliation. The timing of when your employer’s perception of your performance changes or the disciplinary action could be a warning sign that your employer wants to punish you for something.
Companies often don’t like those who rock the boat
If your supervisor started making unwanted advances toward you, your employer would likely prefer that you just ignore their flirting and go about your job. However, that places an unfair burden on you. Your employer should proactively prevent sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other misconduct in the workplace.
When they fail to do so, you have a right to speak up. You also have a right to report the company to regulatory agencies for illegal activity or to discuss working conditions and compensation with your co-workers in an attempt to better organize. If your employer started writing you up or complaining about your work performance right after you made a complaint, initiated an investigation or started agitating for unionization, the more likely it is that retaliation motivated their disciplinary decisions.
Although your employer can fire you for any reason, they can not break the law by retaliating against you. Recognizing workplace retaliation makes it easier for you to fight back when your employer mistreats you.