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What You Need To Know About Workplace Retaliation

By Pasha Vaziri
Attorney At Law

If you have been fired, demoted, had your pay cut, or are otherwise being mistreated on the job, and you think your employer is doing it to punish you for previous behavior, Vaziri Law LLC may be able to help. Our experienced team of employment law practitioners regularly assist Chicago area employees whose employers have retaliated against them. 

What Is Workplace Retaliation? 

Illinois and federal law prohibit employers from punishing employees who seek to enforce their employment rights. This includes the right to be free from discrimination and the right to work without being harassed.

Asserting your workplace rights is called “protected activity,” and it is illegal for your employer to prevent you from engaging in protected activity, or punishing you after you do so. Some common examples of protected activities include:

  • communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
  • answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
  • refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
  • resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
  • requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
  • asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

If you engage in protected activity, and your employer then takes action against you, that is retaliation, and it is illegal. It is just as serious of an offense as outright discrimination or harassment, but that does not mean that Chicagoland employers don’t try to get away with it. 


There are many Chicagoland workers who have been fired on the spot for daring to stand up for themselves. Other employees find themselves out of work weeks or months later but suspect their previous activity rather than work performance is to blame. Vaziri Law LLC is proud of the work we do to help these employees hold their former employers accountable. 


Getting fired is a fairly clear-cut indication of retaliation. Demotions, on the other hand, are more common and hard to prove. Some examples of this include:

  • changes to job titles; 
  • removing supervisory responsibilities; 
  • Increased supervision or micromanagement; and 
  • transfers to less prestigious or desirable work or work locations.

Anything that makes work-life harder or less appealing could be an example of a demotion. The key is finding evidence that proves the changes were made in response to the protected activity, and that is something Vaziri Law LLC knows how to do well. 

Pay Cuts

Getting your pay cut is another common form of retaliation. Whether that cut is the result of a wage or salary decrease or a reduction in the number of hours you are scheduled to work, our team can help you prove that it is no coincidence you started earning less after engaging in protected activity. 

Fueled by passion. Built on trust.

Vaziri Law LLC has represented many Chicago area employees in workplace retaliation lawsuits over the years. We have handled cases where employees were fired and retaliated against in ways short of being fired. 

If you believe you are being retaliated against for trying to enforce your workplace rights, we will listen to your side of the story. If you are an employer who wants guidance as you make staffing changes, we are here for you. Vaziri Law LLC is a full-service employment law firm you can trust to put your best interests at heart. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting.

About the Author
Attorney Pasha Vaziri received his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and focuses on personal injury and insurance law cases for clients in the Chicago area. Pasha founded Vaziri Law LLC in 2014 with a focus on the following practice areas: business litigation, class and collective actions, employment litigation, and injury litigation. As an attorney, he strives to achieve your objectives as efficiently as possible. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Mr. Vaziri through our contact page.