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Employment Law/My Son's Situation

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Question
Hello Mr. McGill,

My son is 30 years old and was on SSI until the age of 25. He is not of a race minority but works nights where he is a race minority. His employer is trying to fire him (he has been put on administrative leave) after hotlining the company he works for to their employee ethics hotline.

He has sent a complaint to the EEOC but fears when questioned the co-workers who agree with him will be afraid to speak the truth for fear of retaliation. This is a no-win situation but he is not easily employable and needs insurance.

To make matters worse, his dad is in management in a different department. We don't know what to do because now we fear the loss of both jobs due to retaliation. Any advice?

Thanks,
Becky

Answer
Becky:

I am very sorry to hear about this situation.  While Federal and Illinois law protect those who bring EEOC complaints, as well as all persons who cooperate in an EEOC investigation, from retaliation by their employer (meaning the employer can be sued for damages, by the EEOC itself or by the employees), litigation takes time and in the meantime the employees who have been illegally treated could still be out of a job if the employer acts foolishly.  

The best way to reduce the chances of this occurring is to retain an attorney who will help your son work with the EEOC and warn the employer that retaliation is unlawful and will result in legal action.  If the employer has legal counsel, it will be advised against doing anything that could result in a retaliation claim.  The EEOC has a legal right to interview witnesses and obtain records from employers, and failing to cooperate in an EEOC investigation only makes things worse for the employer.  So there are strong incentives for the wise employer to cooperate without punishing its employees for raising or assisting in the investigation of a claim.

If you do not know an experienced employment attorney in your area, I suggest you run an Internet search on the name of your city or county and the words "bar association lawyer referral."  You will find the website of the local bar association, and all of them now have services to match people up with qualified attorneys.  It is not absolutely necessary to have an attorney assist your son in pursuing his claim, but I believe it is well worth the expense, especially in a potentially unpleasant situation such as your family now faces.

I hope you find this helpful, and wish your family the best in resolving this problem.

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Frank C. Magill

Expertise

I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.

Experience

30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Organizations
Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

Education/Credentials
J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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