If you are worried about what to do if you are fired for retaliation, you may already have lost your job, or you may be looking at the writing on the wall. You've noticed a change in your relationship with your superiors and are just waiting for the hammer to fall. However, right now, if you're still employed, you're in a great position to gather documentation to protect yourself.
Start a paper trail - Keep a record of important work-related milestones like raises, pay decreases, performance reviews, promotions, demotions, and any disciplinary actions. Make sure to note dates, locations, witnesses, and anyone involved in any of these actions. While direct evidence is a powerful tool, be sure not to access any documents that are not available to you because of policy. Ill-gotten evidence rarely helps you in a lawsuit and may even get you in legal trouble of your own.
Request a copy of your personnel file - If possible, get your hands on your own personnel file and make a copy of all important sections like performance reviews and reports. Mail the documents to yourself via Certified Mail and don't open the letter. As long as it's sealed, the courts will accept this as time-stamped evidence in case you are concerned that your employer will doctor the evidence after firing you. If an employer tampers with evidence to prove just cause for firing you, this can be explosive in the courtroom and almost certainly will prove your case.
Make copies of your paycheck stubs - You can usually get copies of your paycheck stubs by contacting your employer's human resources or payroll department. This will be helpful to establish damages for unpaid wages or back pay, and the court will be able to understand your record of compensation.
Get a copy of the employee handbook - An employee handbook is considered a contract by the courts. If the employer's actions surrounding your firing deviate from established company policies, this is extraordinary evidence in your favor.
Get a copy of your contract- If you signed a contract when hired, get a copy of this for your records.
Get a copy of your collective bargaining agreement - If you're a member of a union, you should retain a copy for your records as well.
It can be devastating when you get terminated for exercising your rights or refusing to engage in known illegal behaviors. While it's an emotional time, now is the moment when you need to continue your documentation efforts.
Write down the timeline - Document everything that occurred before and after receiving notice of your termination. Record the names of all parties involved as these people may be called as witnesses during the trial.
Keep copies of your termination notice- Keep a copy of your termination letter or print off a copy if you received it through your work's email.
Ask for a written explanation for your termination - If there is no explanation in your termination notice, request a formal written explanation outlining why you were fired. For example, you can send an email to your boss saying, "I am being fired for XYZ, is that correct?"
Speak with coworkers - Although it can be awkward, if you have close contacts at your work that are willing to speak to you about the incident, their testimony can be invaluable. For example, if a coworker overheard evidence that the firing was retaliatory in nature. Also, ask if they've seen any pattern evidence, like other coworkers being fired shortly after being injured on the job. Or, if they know of other coworkers that were not fired for the same "shortcomings," you are purportedly "guilty" of what led to your termination.