Retaliatory Discharge Law and Legal Definition

Retaliatory discharge a legal term for the punishment of an employee for engaging in a protected activity, such as filing a discrimination charge or opposing unlawful employer practices. A typical claim might involve an employee discharged for filing a valid worker's compensation claim. It is usually an exception to the at-will employment doctrine, which allows an employer to fire an employee for any or no reason at all.

For example, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who complains of discriminatory behavior on the part of the employer or a co-worker, or who refuses to participate in discriminatory behavior at the request of the employer, or on behalf of the employer. Typically the complaining employee's belief that discrimination has occurred must be a reasonable belief.