A former HSBC senior vice president has filed a lawsuit claiming that the global bank retaliated against him for complaining about sexual harassment aimed at a fellow employee.
According to the lawsuit, the employee reported an incident where a supervisor attempted to force a fellow employee to sleep with a senior banker. Afterwards, the bank took punitive actions against him, including denying him a bonus, preventing him from accessing his office, and falsely accusing him of leaking confidential information to third parties. The fact that the employee received a bonus every since he began his employment with the bank until this year is noteworthy and raises a strong presumption of retaliation.
Retaliation is the act of an employer taking adverse employment action against an employee for participating in a protected activity. Adverse employment action can include changing working conditions, changing hours, decreasing pay, denying promotion, demoting and ultimately actual and constructive termination. Retaliation often occurs after an employee complains about a violation of a law or engages in some other protected activity, including complaining about discrimination in the workplace. To prevail on a retaliation claim, the employee must show that there is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.
Retaliation lawsuits often rely on this kind of circumstantial evidence where employees may have a so-called “legitimate” reason for taking adverse employment action against the employee but the circumstances surrounding this adverse employment action indicates that the reason is in fact a pretext for retaliation. Circumstantial evidence is often the only form of evidence that may exist in employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation cases. That is why it may be crucial for employees who are facing discrimination and/or retaliation at the workplace to keep a detailed record of events. If you believe that your company is retaliating against you for participating in a protected activity, you should keep a careful log of events. Doing so may help you in the future, should you decide to file a lawsuit.
How can you tell if your employer is retaliating against you?
It is not always easy to tell whether your employer is retaliating against you. Although some cases involve fairly unambiguous forms of retaliation such as demotion or termination, others involve far more subtle acts. Some indicators of retaliation may be if your supervisor stops including you in meetings, or if you receive an unexpectedly poor work review after you participate in a protected activity.
If you are uncertain as to whether your employer unlawfully retaliated against you, contact one of the lawyers at Akin Law Group for help.
What to do if you believe that your employer has retaliated against you.
The first thing you should do if you suspect that you have been retaliated against is notify a supervisor or your human resources department about your situation. Ask for an explanation of the adverse employment acts that you have faced. If your supervisor or human resources representative does not provide a reasonable explanation, you should tell him or her that you believe that you are being retaliated against. If your employer denies your claim and/or refuses to address it, contact Akin Law Group as soon as possible for information about your rights and your options. Our lawyers are highly experienced in matters of employment law, and are ready to help you better understand the legal matters involved in your case.