What constitutes a legitimate retaliation claim?

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What constitutes a legitimate retaliation claim?

I turned in documentation on a supervisor about their poor performance because they like to harass and bully employees. To retaliate, the supervisor started asking fellow employees about me and saying I was being investigated by HR as a result. I went to H. asking about this but they denied it. A week later I had a meeting with HR and my operations manager (my supervisor’s boss) gave me 2 options: sign a resignation or be terminated. I understand what “at-will” employment is. Do I have a case to sue?

Asked on April 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not seem to have a case to sue, based on what you write. An employee only has a retaliation claim if  he or she is being retaliated against for exercising a protected right (like to FMLA leave, if the employer and employee both qualify) or for raising a specifically protected claim, such as for overtime or that  the employee is being sexually harassed. However,  there is no right to, or protection for, complaining about a supervisor for poor performance or bullying; and a supervisor may indeed bully employees so long as he or she is not doing so on the basis of the employee's race, sex, religion, age over 40, disability, etc. Therefore, from what you write, it appears you had no inherent right to raise the complaint you did; therefore, the employer may take action against you, including termination, for doing so.


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