A former coworker is filing suit against our previous employer to gain unemployment benefits, for wrongful termination among other claims. Working conditions at the office were awful and she wants me to write a statement affirming her claims about how terrible they treated their workers.
My only concern in doing so is whether they would be able to retaliate by changing my status to deny my benefits. I'm already receiving them and rely on them to make ends meet while I look for a new job.
Under Title VII, if you were to participate in an investigation or employment discrimination proceeding, and if the company were to therefore retaliate against you, it would be endangering itself into opening up a lawsuit against it by you. Please go to the EEOC.GOV website, and see below the part about Retaliation. When scrolling down, notice the part about "protected activity". Read at the bottom about an example--being a witness in litigation. I've cut and paste the portion that you can either view directly on the website, or read below.
Protected activity includes:
Opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination
Opposition is informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination. Opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law; and the manner of the opposition is reasonable.
Examples of protected opposition include:
Complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others;
Threatening to file a charge of discrimination;
Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or
Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.
Examples of activities that are NOT protected opposition include:
Actions that interfere with job performance so as to render the employee ineffective; or
Unlawful activities such as acts or threats of violence.
Participation in an employment discrimination proceeding.
Participation means taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding. Participation is protected activity even if the proceeding involved claims that ultimately were found to be invalid. Examples of participation include:
Filing a charge of employment discrimination;
Cooperating with an internal investigation of alleged discriminatory practices; or
Serving as a witness in an EEO investigation or litigation.
I agree with the prior answer regarding a potential retaliation claim. Also, under Georgia's procedures for unemployment benefits, once the employer returns a notice of separation which supports an employee's entitlement to unemployment benefits, the employer cannot change the reason to deprive the former employee of benefits.
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