What is a retaliation claim?


Attorney Tom Olsen: Guest today is Attorney Travis Hollifield with the Hollifield Legal Center in Winter Park. It focuses on working women’s legal rights. Travis, again welcome to the show and tell us what they might call you about today.

Attorney Travis Hollifield: Hey, Tom. By the way, 26 years – did you start this program when you were 10 years old?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes.

Attorney Travis Hollifield: My gosh.

Attorney Tom Olsen: You should’ve heard me back then. I was – yes, maybe.

Attorney Travis Hollifield: Listen, what I do, I focus on working women’s legal issues. That means I do sexual harassment claims, I do numerous pregnancy discrimination types of claims, family medical leave act, wage theft which is unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wage, and retaliation claims tend to be the hot tickets in my office.

Attorney Tom Olsen: If you want to reach Travis with any of those type of employment law issues, again call us in the studio right now, 407-297-9696. Now what I do know from just reading articles, retaliation claims are rising.

Attorney Travis Hollifield: Unfortunately.

Attorney Tom Olsen: What is an employment retaliation claim and how would an employee proceed with it?

Attorney Travis Hollifield: Well, it’s interesting. Retaliation in Florida particularly has evolved into what we consider to be a two-pronged or two-leveled system. What I mean by that is certain statutes that prohibit retaliation in the workplace require an employee to prove that an actual violation of law by the employer occurred before they will have standing or be protected by the Florida whistleblower statutes. At least that’s the current interpretation by courts.

But there's other statutes where if an employee objects to what they perceive to be illegal activity in the workplace where they don’t have to prove the underlying illegality of what it was that they were objecting to.

It makes it confusing for employees to decide, “Well, should I blow the whistle or not? Am I going to have protection under these circumstances?” And that’s where an attorney like me and other qualified attorneys that are employment specialist can help guide employees in making that decision and then how best to execute an objection to the employer so that they can be protected.

Attorney Tom Olsen: If an employee has this thought that they may want to do such a thing, may be wise to sit down with an attorney like you before they pursue.

Attorney Travis Hollifield: I would say definitely yes. One thing I always tell clients is, “I wish you would’ve come to see me two weeks ago before you went off on your own to try and deal with these sensitive legal issues” because there's a lot of nuance to it. There's a lot of, I guess a lack of clarity in the law particularly with retaliation issues and it depends on the type of thing you're going to complain about how best to do that and that’s what somebody like me can help folks with.