Foremost, retaliation claims are different from discrimination claims. Whereas discrimination claims are based on belonging to a protected class of persons, generally speaking, retaliation claims deal with punishment for engaging in a protected activity. Much broader in scope, retaliation claims occur in the context of exercising free speech (Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250, 256, 126 S. Ct. 1695, 1701, 164 L. Ed. 2d 441 (2006)); exercising freedom of religion (CBOCS W., Inc. v. Humphries, 553 U.S. 442, 463, 128 S. Ct. 1951, 1964, 170 L. Ed. 2d 864 (2008)); and expressing views on matters of public concern, such as whistleblowing on unlawful conduct (Waters v. Churchill, 511 U.S. 661, 692, 114 S. Ct. 1878, 1896, 128 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1994))—to name a small few. Furthermore, retaliation claims differ depending on whether you were employed at the time of your employer’s retaliation against you, or whether you were a free citizen at the time that a government official retaliated against you.
Again, the analysis requires an experienced attorney, for example, there is a concept called mixed-motive in which, depending on the facts, a government official could admit that his retaliatory actions were based in part on protected constitutional activity and still get away with retaliating against you. Call our civil and human rights attorneys to get a free consultation.