How to Prove Causation in a Whistleblower Claim
If you have been discriminated against or faced negative consequences as a result of your actions as a whistleblower, you may be able to file a complaint against your employer and those responsible for the actions against you. The key to a successful complaint is to be able to effectively and adequately demonstrate a causal relationship between your coming forward and the consequences against you. Here are a few of the most common ways that can be done.
Proving a Causal Link
Employers know that taking actions against a whistleblower can lead to potentially serious consequences, so in order to do so, they must make any actions appear to be legitimate and completely unrelated to the whistleblowing incident. For example, they may cite falling revenues as a reason for laying you off or cutting your pay, or they may try to claim that you violated the terms of your employment contract and can thus be fired.
In these instances, even though the provided reason is “legitimate,” an employee can still win a retaliation case by demonstrating that the listed reason was actually pretext for an illegitimate reason related to retaliatory intentions.
Evidence of Retaliatory Motive
Showing retaliatory motives often requires evidence, and emails which discuss taking adverse actions against a whistleblower for their conduct rarely exist to provide a perfect, irrefutable case. Instead, you usually have to show the retaliatory nature of your employer’s actions through other ways. One method is through “temporal proximity,” which essentially means action being taken against you in very close proximity to the time you came forward.
For example, if you come forward with a report that your supervisor has been stealing from the company and two weeks later their boss fires you for “attendance issues” when you were late by ten minutes one day, you could claim that this is evidence that you were retaliated against because of how swiftly the action was taken against you. This also could expose the fact that your boss and their boss were in on the theft ring together.
Still other employers know that it’s difficult to terminate the employment of a whistleblower without facing a complaint, and others will instead make working conditions difficult for the whistleblower themselves. They can do this in the form of increased productivity quotas that are impossible to meet, increased scrutiny on job performance, and using unrealistic standards to justify things like harassment, disciplinary action, demotions, pay raises, and more.
It’s important to gather all evidence of possible discrimination against you when you come forward as a whistleblower so you can protect your rights and hold your employer accountable. If you find yourself facing a difficult task, talk to a Dallas employment attorney from The Hunnicutt Law Firm by contacting us online now!